In another indication of a communication gap within the Congress, the party ended up announcing two dates for staging protests against the Union government’s farm laws in Mumbai.
While Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), headed by Balasaheb Thorat, issued a release on Tuesday evening announcing plans to ‘Gherao Raj Bhavan’ over the contentious farm laws and price rise on January 16, the party’s Mumbai unit – led by MLC Ashok (Bhai) Jagtap – issued another release declaring that the same protest will be held on January 15.
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) had earlier issued instructions to all state units, asking them to organise simultaneous protests in this regard on January 15.
Since the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) functions as an independent unit, it had also received the high command’s directive.
With campaigning on for Friday’s gram panchayat polls, Thorat, following a discussion with senior leaders and ministers on Tuesday afternoon, decided not to hold the protest on January 15.
In Maharashtra, the protest – planned in Mumbai – was to be staged a day later.
The state Congress on Wednesday released a list of 428 “social media warriors” who have been tasked with promoting the party online. MPCC general secretary Abhijeet Sakpal, who heads the party's social media unit in the state, said the new team will counter BJP's online propaganda. The party has appointed one social media in-charge for 252 of the state's 277 Assembly segments. A 10-man core committee will oversee operations, while 48 people have been appointed to spearhead the unit at the district level.
AICC Maharashtra (in charge) H K Patil was present at the meeting, so was the newly appointed coordinator for the Mumbai unit, Chandrakant Handore.
The latter also attended a MRCC meeting later in the day, where preparations for holding the protests on January 15 were discussed.
Sources said that MRCC was never informed about the change of plan.
Unaware of the postponement, Jagtap even finalised plans for the protest on Friday with his team and party’s block presidents in Mumbai.
It was only after MPCC issued the press release regarding the protest plan that the mistake came to the notice of MRCC office-bearers.
Sources said that Jagtap then held discussions with both Thorat and Patil.
Eventually, it was decided not to hold protests in Mumbai at all.
Incidentally, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari ended up being the saving grace for the two units. The party cited the change in plan to Koshyari being scheduled to be in Nagpur on both the days. The protest has now been shifted to the Raj Bhavan in Nagpur on January 16.
Jagtap, when contacted, glossed over the communication gap.
“The protest has been shifted to Nagpur as the Governor was not available in Mumbai,” he said.
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