The Mumbai Congress on Tuesday hit out at its most recent defector Sameer Desai, a former corporator and party veteran Gurudas Kamat’s nephew, saying the party had “virtually discarded him as he was found lacking in ground support.” Desai joined the BJP on Sunday and was given the post of Mumbai BJP secretary, setting off rumours of a fresh spate of desertions in the ranks of the Congress in Mumbai.
The party also clarified that the Congress’s decision to sideline Desai was taken with the full consent of Kamat, who had reportedly made it clear to Desai that his own dwindling support in his constituency would cost him the party nomination for the Assembly elections and also that anti-party activities would not be tolerated under any circumstances.
A press statement issued by the Mumbai Congress stated, “Desai after his defeat in the municipal corporation election from his ‘personally chosen ward’ was found to be lacking in ground support in the party as well as Goregaon Assembly and hence was not considered for party nomination. Desai had realised that he had no future in Congress and hence chose to work for the BJP candidate.”
The statement even alleged that Desai had approached Shiv Sena leader from Goregaon Subhash Desai, who the party claimed had refused to entertain Desai. In its message to the BJP, the press statement said, “Inducting such discards from the party will not help the BJP but in fact generate opposition within its rank for encouraging such people at the cost of their own loyalists.”
Desai lashed out against the allegations saying he openly worked against the party during the Assembly election and supported BJP candidate Vidya Thakur for the Goregaon Assembly seat.
“I quit because even after working for the party for 27 years, if the party still does not consider me worthy enough, it is time for a change.Since the past 35 years, the party has not fielded a local Congress candidate for the Goregaon seat. First, this seat was given to RPI for ten years, then NCP, despite partyworkers pleading with the party high command to field a local. We were proved right as the NCP candidate lost his deposit,” Desai said bitterly. He added that only “those closer to Delhi will be entertained, not local, hardworking candidates who know the constituency.”
Desai had been elected corporator twice from Goregaon and had wrestled the then Shiv Sena bastion for the Congress party in 2002 after 40 years, with a margin of 333 votes and in 2007 by a margin of 6,000 votes.
He then lost the subsequent municipal corporation election in 2012. Desai forecast more defections from the party, saying, “I am very sure there is an undercurrent of dissent and won’t be surprised if many switch loyalties to BJP. Many have expressed their desire to switch loyalties,” he said.
Desai now has its eyes set on the corporation election.
“I am looking at the next corporation election,I do not have to hide my aspiration. But I had not set any conditions before the BJP and was surprised to hear that I was made secretary.”