Rage within Mumbai Congress comes to the fore
Milind Deora’s resignation as city chief triggered a spat between his supporters, party leaders and former city chief Sanjay NirupamUpdated: Jul 09, 2019 01:00 IST
Bickering within the city unit of the Congress was on public display after city chief Milind Deora resigned from his post in support of party chief Rahul Gandhi.
Deora’s resignation triggered a Twitter spat between his supporters, some party leaders and former city chief Sanjay Nirupam, whom Deora had replaced just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The tussle within the city unit, even as the state organisation remains leaderless (new state party president has not been announced after former chief Ashok Chavan resigned), points to an organisation that is losing sense of direction just ahead of the Assembly polls in October.
At a time when the party leaders should have been discussing strategy for the polls, it was a free-for-all on social media.
The tussle started with Nirupam taking a dig at Deora over his resignation. Deora had mentioned that he looked forward to a national role to stabilise the party as he made public his resignation tendered much earlier.
Nirupam, without naming Deora, had jibed him in a tweet on Sunday evening questioning whether this was a resignation or “a ladder to climb up (at national level)?”
This was followed by party spokesperson Bhai Jagtap taunting Nirupam, without naming him, for pointing fingers at others, while he had lost the elections with a margin of more than 2.7 lakh votes.
Other party leaders and Deora supporters also made public a letter written by the Congress candidate for north Mumbai, Urmila Matondkar, where she blamed Nirupam’s supporters for poor electoral management and organisation during the Lok Sabha polls. In the letter, Matondkar had asked for “stern disciplinary action against these office-bearers for bright future of the organization”.
Matondkar also used the social media platform to express regret at Deora’s resignation. She tweeted on Monday, “Disappointed by the resignation of @milinddeora who was a ray of hope for Mumbai Congress and changes to come for future betterment. We have lot to be done and very little time.”
The Twitter spat finally forced Deora on Monday evening to issue a press statement regarding his resignation asking supporters to draw curtains on the controversy.
A part of his statement said : “A party and its ideals are bigger than an individual. Some unpleasant and unwarranted commentary from certain quarters should be ignored and not countered. The Congress party has seen many upheavals and shall overcome this one too.”
Nirupam was removed from the post just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in March and was replaced by Deora. The replacement came after Deora, in February, had openly criticised Mumbai unit leadership and requested Rahul Gandhi to intervene.
Infighting within the factions of leaders is not new to the Mumbai Congress. Before Deora, former union minister and the late Gurudas Kamat, on many occasions, had raised voice against the leadership of Nirupam, especially ahead of BMC polls in 2017.
Other factions of the party, too, were actively involved in demanding Nirupam’s removal, as city chief of party before he was replaced with Deora in March this year. Nirupam was the Mumbai Congress chief for more than four years.
Jagtap told HT, “This is not the time to raise such questions over the resignation as almost all state and city unit chiefs have resigned from their posts in support of Rahulji…He should look at his own image,” he said.
“Both the state and city units of the party have not had leaders for the past few weeks, resulting in activities coming to a halt. There was nothing wrong in Deora submitting his resignation in solidarity with Rahul Gandhi. Nirupam’s statement further weakens the party by bringing infighting to the fore,” he said.
The appointments of the State and Mumbai unit chief is expected to be done later this week after a meeting of Congress Working Committee on July 10 in Delhi.