Milind Deora replaces Sanjay Nirupam as Mumbai Congress chief
The move comes more than a month after the bickering among Mumbai Congress leaders reached the doors of the party high command.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi appointed former Union minister and trusted aide, Milind Deora, as the party’s Mumbai unit chief on Monday.
Deora, 42, has replaced Sanjay Nirupam, a move that comes more than a month after the bickering among Mumbai Congress leaders reached the doors of the party high command.
The Congress, simultaneously, announced Nirupam as its candidate from the Mumbai North West constituency for the Lok Sabha elections. The decision was taken just a month before Mumbai votes on April 29.
The feud within the Mumbai Congress leaders has come out in the open several times during Nirupam’s four-year stint. In February, Deora publicly expressed his disappointment over the differences among party leaders in Mumbai. He had urged the central leadership to intervene for better prospects in the Lok Sabha polls.
“Leaders in the Mumbai Congress have been expressing their displeasure over the style of functioning of the city unit chief,” said a party leader privy to the developments.
“They conveyed to the leadership that it would affect the prospects of the party in the elections. The party expects city leaders to reunite and work with new enthusiasm under the leadership of Deora, who was recommended by almost all the leaders who are against Nirupam,” the leader said.
A section of leaders is also against Nirupam’s candidature from the North West constituency.
Soon after the announcement, Deora thanked Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, while Nirupam promised support to his successor.
“The appointment as president of Mumbai Regional Congress Committee comes at a challenging time,” Deora said. “I commit myself to strengthening the roots of the party in Mumbai. I appeal to all leaders and workers to work unitedly, defending and furthering party ideals. The city of Mumbai needs the politics of inclusive development. In my view, the Indian National Congress is the only political outfit that truly represents the spirit and nature of the city of Mumbai. In my tenure I will focus on holistic development, with a focus on housing for all, protection to small and medium enterprises and enriching social and communal harmony.”
Milind’s father, former Union minister, the late Murli Deora, was Mumbai Congress chief for 22 consecutive years until 2003.
Nirupam, meanwhile, said. “During my four years as Mumbai president of the Congress, I worked hard and in the interest of the party.”
The infighting among key Mumbai Congress leaders had come to the fore after Deora, in a series of tweets last month, said he was hurt and disappointed that many Congress leaders in the city were sitting at home. He said they need to be taken into confidence to know why they felt dejected and disillusioned. He had also warned the leadership that if the problem was not fixed, it may affect the party’s poll performance. “I have been forced to repeat my strong commitment towards the need for the Mumbai Congress to remain a symbol of Mumbai’s diversity and to strengthen its social fabric,” he had said.
Before this, the infighting became evident ahead of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections in 2017, after former Union cabinet minister and former city unit chief Gurudas Kamat raised questions over Nirupam’s leadership. Kamat had even resigned from all official party posts in protest, although he withdrew the resignation in a few months. Kamat passed away in August 2018.
Besides Kamat and Deora, other leaders like Kripashankar Singh, Eknath Gaikwad, Bhai Jagtap, Arif Naseem Khan too met party leaders in Delhi on several occasions complaining against Nirupam.