The Congress has begun discussing names of senior leaders as possible successors to Kripashankar Singh following his resignation as chief of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC). However,a final decision will be taken only after the elections in Uttar Pradesh,sources in the party said on Thursday.
No serious discussions have begun on this subject though some obvious names have emerged, said a senior Congress functionary. Senior leaders will take stock of the Mumbai scenario after the final round of polling in UP on March 3.
A review of the partys unexpected rout in the just-concluded Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections will also be undertaken soon.
Among the frontrunners for the presidentship of the prestigious MRCC are MP (Mumbai North Central) Priya Dutt,former Mumbai Congress chief Gurudas Kamat now MP from the Mumbai North-West constituency and a handful of legislators.
Priya is an acceptable face to all communities; she is popular among the Maharashtrians,other communities and North Indians, said Vile Parle legislator and her supporterKrishna Hegde. Congress sources said she would be keen to take up the assignment too. While actor Sunil Dutt was elected MP five times,daughter Priya is in her second term.
The other leaders believed to be in the fray are legislators Bhai Jagtap,Madhu Chavan and former MHADA chairman Amarjit Singh Manhas. But the MRCC president is required to have the knack of fundraising too, said another senior Congress leader. That makes it a tough post to fill.
While the names of MP (Mumbai North) Sanjay Nirupam and legislator Rajhans Singh are also being discussed,the general agreement is that the candidate should be acceptable to the Maharashtrian community,while also being somebody who can end the factionalism in the city Congress.
The Congress cannot make the Marathi or non-Marathi face an issue,but whether one likes it or not the politics of voting makes it mandatory for us to face the issue that 30 per cent of Mumbais voters are Maharashtrian and a sizeable segment of them vote for the Shiv Sena or Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, said senior Congressman Anant Gadgil.
If the party wishes to gain a stronger foothold in Mumbai,it has to build a Marathi leader in the long run. This need not be the MRCC president,it could be any other post, said Gadgil,adding that he has suggested to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan the need for a minister dedicated to Mumbais development.
Gadgil also said there is a growing feeling among party loyalists that they are being neglected,something the high command would have to consider during any stocktaking on Mumbai,Thane and Pune.