Congress president Rahul Gandhi sent out a clear message to warring leaders of the faction-ridden Mumbai and Maharashtra Congress indicating that they must close ranks and fight unitedly for improving the party’s prospects. Rahul, who was in Mumbai on Tuesday, held meetings with party’s legislators from Maharashtra and party corporators from Mumbai in Bandra in the evening.
According to sources, the Congress president informed the elected representatives that they must all come together to fight the ruling BJP and the Shiv Sena in the 2019 polls.
Apart from the Lok Sabha poll, assembly polls in the state are also scheduled to take place in 2019. Factionalism and infighting have dogged the party’s efforts for revival of its political fortunes, especially in Mumbai where the party is deeply divided.
Incidentally, while sources confirmed that the factionalism did not come to the fore during the meeting of elected representatives, some signs of it were seen during the booth workers meeting addressed by Rahul Gandhi earlier in the day.
According to sources, senior party leaders were miffed with Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam for “projecting himself as the lone face of the Congress in Mumbai.” They complained that hoardings leading to the venue bore pictures of only Nirupam and Rahul Gandhi. Names and pictures of other party leaders from Mumbai, of Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan, and All India Congress Committee’s Maharashtra incharge Mohan Prakash were missing.
A senior leader complained that there had been also been a “breach of protocol” while deciding the speakers who would address the gathering before Rahul Gandhi’s address. Incidentally, former Union Minister Gurudas Kamat, who is seen as an arch-rival to Nirupam, skipped the booth leaders meeting. Sources confirmed that he was present to welcome Rahul at the Mumbai airport. At the booth workers meet, a few Gurudas Kamat supporters raised slogans in his name. According to a source considered close to Kamat, he had skipped the meeting due to ill-health.