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Outgoing MPs skip Cong meet to review rout in city, sparks fly amid blame game

Former MPs Milind Deora, Eknath Gaikwad, Priya Dutt and Sanjay Nirupam, all of whom failed to retain their LS seats, opted not to attend the meet.

A meeting convened by the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) Saturday for reviewing  party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls turned out to be a “farce” with four of the five candidates who contested the polls and senior legislators giving it a miss.

While Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was in Delhi, state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre, who was invited for it, remained absent.

Originally, the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) under Thakre had convened a meeting to review the poor performance in Mumbai, where the party failed to win a single seat. This was, however, called off after Mumbai Congress chief Janardan Chandurkar objected to it, arguing that the MRCC had been constituted as an “independent unit” by the Congress.

Former MPs Milind Deora (Mumbai South), Eknath Gaikwad (Mumbai South Central), Priya Dutt (Mumbai North Central) and Sanjay Nirupam (Mumbai North), all of whom failed to retain their Lok Sabha seats, opted not to attend the meet. The sole defeated MP present was Mumbai North West candidate Gurudas Kamat.

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The absentee legislators included Annie Shekhar, Naseem Khan (also the guardian minister of Mumbai suburbs), Kripashankar Singh, Baba Siddique, Baldev Khosa and Aslam Shaikh.

During the MRCC meeting, partymen blamed some senior leaders for the defeat in the North Central Lok Sabha seat. Party leader Yusuf Abrahani alleged that suburban guardian minister Naseem Khan had indulged in anti-party activities and demanded his ouster. Abrahani, who is also the chairman of the Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority, reportedly argued that Khan had been campaigning against party candidate Dutt for most part of the campaign. He cited letters exchanged between Khan  and Dutt in this regard to justify his allegation. Khan’s supporters, however, rose in protest questioning how Abrahani, who is not from the constituency, was allowed to speak.

Khan’s brother Sharif, who was present, argued that Dutt had bagged more votes from Khan’s Assembly segment this time than in 2009. “Dutt has bagged her highest tally of votes from Khan’s Assembly pocket. How can he be accused of sabotaging her campaign?” Sharif said, while accusing Abrahani of making the allegations out of “personal vendetta”. As tempers flared up, Chandurkar asked Abrahani to step out of the meeting.

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During the review of the same constituency, district president Zia-Ur-Rehman, a close Dutt aide, and his supporters also sought ouster of Congress corporator Brian Miranda for his “lack of participation” during the campaign. They displayed a newspaper report published after the poll verdict, where Miranda had criticised Dutt. Taking cognisance of it, Chandurkar said, “I have issued Miranda a showcause notice.”

Later, Chandurkar said the meeting was fruitful. “The candidates who skipped the meeting had informed us in advance. I would soon submit a formal report to the party high command.”

Kamat blames Chavan govt cop-out on poll sops

Former Union minister Gurudas Kamat, who failed to retain the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha seat, blamed the state’s failure to implement election promises like slum cut-off extension effectively and resolve the affordable housing problem as a reason behind the poll debacle.

mumbai.newsline@expressindia.com

First published on: 25-05-2014 at 01:02 IST
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