Priya Dutt, Milind Deora, Eknath Gaikwad, Sanjay Nirupam: Congress candidates from Mumbai?
After Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s city visit on Friday, the Mumbai unit of the party has almost finalised candidates for four of the five seats they will contest in the Lok Sabha polls.
The city has six Lok Sabha constituencies. Party’s former MP Priya Dutt has reportedly agreed to fight from the North-Central constituency, while Milind Deora is party’s Mumbai South candidate. Eknath Gaikwad and Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam are expected to be in the fray from the South-Central and North-West constituencies, respectively.
Although Gandhi did not hold any formal meetings with the state or city leaders, the party president has set the ball rolling over disputed seats, alliance with smaller parties and probable candidates in key constituencies.
Priya Dutt, who has stayed away from party functions for the past few months, met Gandhi at Mumbai airport on Friday morning for a few minutes and reportedly agreed to fight the polls. Dutt had issued a press statement two months ago saying she was opting out of the fray for personal reasons. She was actively involved in the rally at MMRDA grounds on Friday, where party workers from her constituency were seen holding placards that read: ‘Priya Dutt Once Again’. “The party’s state and Mumbai leadership convinced her to not opt out, as the constituency is one of the most favoured for the party. She has started working in her constituency,” said a party leader.
While Deora has no competition within the party for his seat, Gaikwad is believed to have scored over his competitors for the South-Central seat. Similarly, Nirupam’s candidature is considered to have been finalised by the party. The party still hasn’t got a suitable candidate in Mumbai North constituency to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s incumbent MP Gopal Shetty. “We have candidates for Mumbai North too. We expect the screening committee to meet in Delhi in the next few days to take a call,” said Nirupam.
There is speculation that Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with the late Gurudas Kamat’s wife Maharookh on Friday was to offer her a seat. She has expressed her inability to enter politics.
Meanwhile, Gandhi is believed to have asked the warring Mumbai Congress leaders to bury the hatchet and pull up their socks.