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In Kalina and Chandivali, senior Cong men expect win

The MLA took nearly three and a half hours to reach his destination.

Mumbai |
September 26, 2014 4:58:25 am

BY ROHIT ALOK

One is a former Mumbai Congress chief and former minister of state in the Maharashtra government, the other is guardian minister for Mumbai’s suburbs and Cabinet minister for minorities and textiles. Together, Kripashankar Singh and Naseem Khan have been the backbone of the Mumbai North-Central Parliamentary constituency where the Congress’s Priya Dutt suffered a shock defeat at the hands of first-timer Poonam Mahajan. Both senior Congressmen, however, believe that the May defeat is a thing of the past as the two filed their nominations on Thursday.

“I am deeply hurt by the  allegations against me, they are all politically motivated,” said Singh, talking to The Indian Express about the disproportionate assets case against him. “Nothing has been proven until now, so why should I be afraid? I disclosed my assets in 2009 and I have done it again now.”

But the two men are also at the centre of a reported feud with former MP Priya Dutt, whose defeat is also blamed on the duo’s lack of enthusiasm in her campaign.

Neither Khan nor Singh had been present when Dutt filed her nomination papers, their absence sparking off a controversy about infighting. Singh rubbishes those reports now.

“If there were differences between Priya Dutt and me or even between Dutt and Naseem Khan, why would either of the two of us contest again from her Lok Sabha constituency? There is no truth in this matter. It is fabricated by the media,” said Singh. He,  however, ventured to analyse Dutt’s defeat. “Priya Dutt is a twice elected MP but is not a politician. Her father, Sunil Dutt, was an inspirational political leader who created an impact in the state,” Singh said.

The three-time Kalina MLA is also dealing with reports that he fell out of favour with senior leaders in the party following his disproportionate assets case, something he denies.

“The Congress high command is supportive, when I had resigned in 2011 as president of the Mumbai Congress, they did not accept my resignation for 15 days. In fact, when I met Sonia Gandhi she made me tear my resignation letter as she disapproved of the matter,” Singh said.

At a municipal school in Vidyavihar where Naseem Khan filed his nomination, the minister said he was confident of winning.

The MLA, who had started from Saki Naka at 11.30 am, took nearly three and a half hours to reach his destination, waving and speaking to large crowds on the way.

Ijaz Sheikh, a Congress party supporter, said “the energy of the supporters needs to be witnessed by the others in the constituency. Khan has immense support.”

Supporters were out in full force, with Congress party flags being waved, and even a few men in blue turbans, indicating the Dalit support Khan enjoys alongside the loyalty of the area’s large Muslim population.

rohit.alok@expressindia.com

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