‘Issue of Mumbai Congress Committee President’s post will be resolved soon’

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday sent out a clear message to the Mumbai Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) that no anti-party activities would be tolerated.

Anybody indulging in activities, or working, to undermine the party would be thrown out, he said. He promised justice to workers who felt they have not got their due and asserted there would be no more rubber-stamping.

Mr. Gandhi conferred with representatives of the MPCC, parliamentarians, legislators, municipal corporators and chiefs of the six district units at the party headquarters at Tilak Bhavan, Dadar.

The meeting, with the focus on organisational restructuring, is significant in view of the 2014 Assembly polls.

Mr. Gandhi was accompanied by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, State Congress president Manikrao Thakre and All India Congress Committee in-charge Mohan Prakash.

Speaking to reporters in the evening, Mr. Gandhi said the issue over who would be Mumbai Congress president would be resolved soon.

Open rivalries

The meeting witnessed fractiousness and party workers spoke of the open hostility seen towards Mr. Chavan, with complaints coming in against him and Mr. Prakash. The ostensible rivalry among the three leaders had been plaguing the party for a while, the workers said.

While party workers thought Mr. Gandhi would address the issue of the city Congress president’s post, he had other ideas. He called the workers, block presidents and elected representatives from the six Lok Sabha segments in Mumbai and had detailed discussions with them.

Eknath Gaikwad, MP from the South Central constituency, where the party performed poorly in the civic polls, and his daughter, Minister for Women Varsha Gaikwad, told Mr. Gandhi about the delayed Dharavi Redevelopment Project, which was approved in 2004. The Congress block presidents said Mr. Gandhi’s parents had both visited Dharavi and his father had allotted Rs.100 crore for the first redevelopment plan.

Asked about the delay in the project, Mr. Chavan told Mr. Gandhi it was now being handled by the State housing authority and one sector was under way. The delay arose since Mr. Chavan had proposed that rather than private firms, the government execute the project and earn some revenue. He assured Mr. Gandhi he would discuss the matter with Mr. Gaikwad.

Mr. Gandhi heard complaints from MLAs and workers against the Chief Minister and fears that the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was gaining the upper hand in the State.

During his address to party workers, senior Congressman Vasant Nanavare interjected to express his dismay that the party was promoting leaders whose interests were not conducive to the State. He publicly called for the removal of Mr. Prakash.

Mr. Gandhi said he would try and improve things. Five-term MP from Mumbai North West Gurudas Kamath, who resigned from the government in a huff in 2011, was conspicuous in his absence at the meet.

According to sources, Mr. Kamath is attempting to push his candidature for the post of Mumbai president, a manoeuvre that is being opposed within the party.