WITH INFIGHTING threatening to cripple its Lok Sabha election campaign in Mumbai, the central leadership of the Congress stepped in to douse the crisis on Wednesday.
Opening up a front against Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam, former Union minister Milind Deora, the party’s likely candidate from South Mumbai, had on Tuesday made his displeasure clear over the functioning of the Mumbai Congress unit.
Without naming Nirupam, Deora, in a series of tweets, had hit out at the lack of unity in the Mumbai Congress ranks under Nirupam’s leadership.
He had alleged that the Mumbai Congress had become “a cricket pitch of sectarian politics, with leaders pitted against one another”.
With senior city Congress leaders, including former Maharashtra ministers Naseem Khan, Kripashankar Singh, former MP Eknath Gaikwad, and former Mumbai Congress president Janardan Chandurkar, also repeatedly criticising Nirupam and demanding his ouster, sources said the All India Congress Committee (AICC) has now sought a report on the matter.
On Wednesday, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is also the AICC’s general secretary in-charge for Maharashtra, held deliberations in this regard with leaders representing both the warring camps in Delhi.
The four AICC secretaries appointed for Maharashtra were also consulted for a feedback over the feud, said sources. Later this week, Nirupam himself is expected to brief Congress president Rahul Gandhi over the controversy. Deora on Tuesday indicated that the party leadership was already aware of its stance.
Since June 2018 when Gandhi appointed Kharge as Maharashtra’s in-charge, the campaign against Nirupam has intensified. The anti-Nirupam camp has also raised strong objection over Nirupam’s plan to vacate his old Lok Sabha seat (Mumbai North), and contest from a neighbouring one (Mumbai-North West).
In 2016, Gandhi, during a visit to Mumbai, had warned the warring camps in the Mumbai Congress to “get their act together”.
Meanwhile, the Congress suffered a setback in Raigad near Mumbai, where former Maharashtra minister Ravishet Patil, considered to be close to Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan, quit the party and joined the ruling BJP.