The turf war in the Mumbai Congress between Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam and former Union Minister Gurudas Kamat has tilted in the former’s favour. For now at least. The Congress high command has given a go-ahead to Nirupam’s plans for an organisational overhaul. Kamat, who resigned from the party a fortnight ago, and his supporters were angling for a stay on these.
Even as Congress remains hopeful that Kamat would return to the party fold, the leadership has decided not to give in to this demand. In fact, Nirupam has even began implementing this plan on June 20, following the high command’s approval.
In a bid to make an electoral comeback in Mumbai in the 2017 civic polls, the Mumbai unit of the Congress is replicating the Shiv Sena’s organisational structure by replacing its traditional block organisation system, which accounts for a cluster of wards, by a ward level organisation system, which is aimed at the party’s grassroot network. The Congress had failed to win a single seat in Mumbai in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and also suffered a near rout in the subsequent Assembly polls.
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While the Congress earlier had 85 block presidents who were collectively responsible for building the party across all the 227 wards in the city, the restructured model envisages constitution of independent three-member teams for each ward.
Although the Congress leadership had first approved this overhaul last November, the turf war between the two camps intensified after the names of the teams were recently finalised. The Kamat camp had accused Nirupam of ignoring his supporters while finalising the names. But on June 20, Nirupam formally appointed the presidents for such teams in 213 out of the 227 wards that had been finalised.
Sources confirmed that Sonia Gandhi’s political advisor Ahmed Patel and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi held discussions with Nirupam over objections raised by Kamat in this regard. “The party appears to have gone with Nirupam’s version,” an insider said. While the party leadership also gave the Kamat camp an audience to air their grievances, it appeared to have rejected their theory.
Meanwhile Kamat appears to be making moves for rapprochement with the leadership. Keen to put up a “spirited” performance in the civic polls, the party is believed to be making efforts for his comeback. The party has not accepted his resignation. Before he announced his resignation and retirement from politics, Kamat was a secretary of All-India Congress Committee and in-charge of Congress unit in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. He was instrumental in Congress’ win in recent zilla parishad and panchayat elections in Gujarat.