A DAY after being ousted as the Mumbai Congress president, Sanjay Nirupam on Tuesday said that the development was a “blessing in disguise” for him. “This works better for me. I can now concentrate solely on winning the Mumbai North West seat,” said Nirupam. He added, “After spending four years in organisational politics, I wish to focus of election politics. For my own political career and for Congress as well, this election is crucial.”
Admitting that factionalism and warring camps had impacted the party’s revival plans in the city, Nirupam claimed that over the last four years, he had tried his best to take everyone along. His ouster had come in the backdrop of protests being raised over his style of functioning. Intensifying the campaign for Nirupam’s removal, former Union Minister Milind Deora, who on Monday succeeded Nirupam, had even accused him of indulging in “sectarian politics” in the build-up to the elections. Nirupam has denied the charge.
Earlier, several Mumbai Congress leaders had rallied behind Deora. In a balancing act, Nirupam was declared as the party’s candidate from Mumbai North West despite opposition from the rival camp over his move to shift from Mumbai North, which he had formerly represented.
Nirupam, however, said that the announcement wasn’t really a surprise to him. “K C Venugopal (AICC general secretary, organisation) had already conveyed the party’s decision to nominate me from the seat but divest me off the post. I had agreed to it. In fact, I had even asked him to suggest if the party wanted me to resign suo motu. Earlier, I had always conveyed my willingness to step down to party president Ashok Chavan.”
He added, “The Mumbai Congress president’s post is a crown of thorns. I wish Deora all the best. Now that he is in charge, I hope that infighting stops now, and no complaints are lodged with the leadership.” Claiming that he had done everything that was possible over the past four years, Nirupam fired another salvo. “The leadership knows who was visible on the ground and who wasn’t. I had led four protests over the Rafale jet fighters corruption controversy, targeting the PM. But there are some who haven’t uttered words on the controversy.”
Admitting that his demotion just ahead of the polls may play a role in his election, Nirupam said he “favours his chances and had always wanted to contest from Mumbai North West.” Nirupam attempted to reach out to those opposed to him within the local ranks by invoking the legacies of former Union ministers Sunil Dutt and Gurudas Kamat, both of whom had been his sworn political rivals during their lifetime. He also announced a plan to release an independent manifesto for his constituency.