Setting the tone for the Congress for Mumbai civic elections, party’s newly appointed Mumbai unit chief, Ashok (Bhai) Jagtap, said on Sunday that the party should fight the polls independently.
“Individually and also as the president of the Mumbai Congress, I believe that we should contest on all the 227 seats (of the BMC),” he said, while speaking to reporters after offering prayers at the famous Khandoba temple in Pune’s Jejuri district.
Jagtap, who is also a sitting MLC, was on Saturday evening named the Congress’s new Mumbai unit chief. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had earlier declared an intention of contesting the Mumbai civic polls, in which the Shiv Sena has been in power for the past two and a half decades, as a pre-poll alliance with the Maha Vikas Aghadi partners, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.
Former Maharashtra minister Naseem Khan, who has been newly named as the campaign committee head for the Mumbai polls, also echoed Jagtap’s opinion. “We are partnering with the Shiv Sena in the state on the basis of the Common Minimum Programme. Contesting civic elections independently won’t impact the alliance or the functioning of the government,” said Khan, reminding that “even when the BJP-Shiv Sena were sharing power in the state, they had contested the last BMC election (in 2017) separately.”
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Jagtap, meanwhile, also recollected how Congress-NCP, though in an alliance in the state, had consistently fought the Mumbai polls independently. A faction-ridden Congress has decided to project collective leadership for the 2022 polls. While naming Jagtap as the Mumbai unit president, it has appointed ex-legislator Charan Singh Sapra as the working president, Khan as the campaign committee chief, ex-minister Suresh Shetty as the manifesto committee head and Dr Amarjit Manhas as the head of the coordination committee.
Ruling out infighting, Jagtap, on Sunday, said that “his job as the captain of the Mumbai unit would be to keep the flock together.” Khan, meanwhile, took a veiled dig at the Shiv Sena, contending that the “roads and basic infrastructural facilities in the financial capital” were in bad shape. With its loyal North Indian voter base shifting decisively towards the BJP, the Congress had earlier slumped to its worst ever electoral performance in the Mumbai civic polls in 2017, winning only 31 seats, and being relegated to a distant third. In the subsequent Lok Sabha polls, the party had failed to win a single seat in the city where it was once founded, and managed to win only four of the 36 seats in the subsequent assembly polls.
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