A meeting of the Congress party in Mumbai supposed to chalk out a plan for the Congress vice president’s two day visit to Mumbai later this week went awry after two party legislators representing warring factions and their supporters came to blows.
The issue on which the two factions clashed was Rahul Gandhi’s itinerary on the first day. Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to visit Mumbai in the evening on January 15 and return to Delhi the next evening.
On Tuesday, at a meeting of city party leaders convened by Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam to finalise plans for Gandhi’s trip, two senior legislators — former Maharashtra minister, Naseem Khan and legislator Aslam Shaikh— and their supporters clashed. Sources said that a bitter fight ensued after Nirupam said Gandhi would first hold a party workers’ gathering in North Mumbai after landing in Mumbai, before making his way to the party office in South Mumbai for inaugurating a hall in the memory of former Union Minister Murli Deora and interacting with the media.
Khan, who has publicly spoken out against Nirupam following the controversy over articles on Sonia Gandhi in the party’s Mumbai mouthpiece Congress Darshan, objected to the North Mumbai plan saying “it did not make sense to have a meeting at one corner of the city and then another at the other end.” Criticising Nirupam’s plan, Khan suggested that even the workers meeting be held in the party office itself.
Shaikh, who owes his allegiance to Nirupam, stood up to oppose Khan’s suggestion. Words were soon exchanged between the two leaders, both of whom share the same bench in the Maharashtra legislative assembly. But before calm could be restored, supporters from both sides showered the choicest abuses at one another. Both sides then came to blows. Calm was restored after both were shifted out from the meeting.
Sources said despite the brawl, Nirupam decided to stick with the North Mumbai plan. Both Nirupam and Shaikh have represented constituencies in North Mumbai.