Cong. rift wide open: Milind Deora threatens to quit


The long-simmering tensions within the Mumbai Congress came out in open on Tuesday after senior Congress leader Milind Deora threatened to quit active politics over ‘infighting’ within the party.

Sources said Mr. Deora went public with his displeasure following no action from party president Rahul Gandhi, who had in October 2018, assured a delegation of eight senior Congress leaders of a change in guard in the Mumbai unit. The delegation had first lodged a protest against city President Sanjay Nirupam in a meeting with senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge at Hotel Taj Lands End, Bandra in January 2018, and demanded replacing Mr. Nirupam with Mr. Deora at the helm of affairs, party sources said.

Cong. rift wide open: Milind Deora threatens to quit

‘Eroding base’

Reigniting the tensions on Tuesday, Mr. Deora sent out a flurry of tweets claiming the infighting was threatening to erode the party’s “base in Mumbai”.

He urged colleague and Mumbai president Sanjay Nirupam to set aside differences for the sake of the party and Congress President Rahul Gandhi. The Congress leader claimed in the tweets that the Mumbai Congress has become a “cricket pitch” for sectarian politics, with leaders pitted against one other. “I am disappointed with what is happening, and the party is aware of my stance on fighting the Lok Sabha elections. While I do not intend to discuss internal party affairs in public, remarks made in a recent interview have forced me to repeat my strong commitment towards the need for the Mumbai Congress to remain a symbol of Mumbai’s diversity and to strengthen its social fabric,” the senior leader said.

Mr. Nirupam refused to comment on the matter, saying he has already conveyed his view to the party high command.

Earlier assurance

Sources in the party said the tweets were a response to the high command’s “lack of interest” in demand for a change of guard. This, despite meetings with Mr. Kharge and Ashok Gehlot twice in New Delhi and with Mr. Gandhi last year, they said. “When we last met Mr. Gandhi, he assured us the issue will be addressed. We had complained about Mr. Nirupam’s style of functioning, his attempts to take money and distribute tickets during the corporation elections in Mumbai. He has been running the city unit like his fiefdom,” said a party leader and former minister.

Meanwhile, Mr. Deora urged Mr. Nirupam to help bring everyone. “I would like to request Sanjay (Nirupam) and other leaders, that we all must put aside political differences and work in unison. I would say that in any [organisation] there will be differences of opinions, there is no infighting. Congress is leading a powerful, united campaign across India. Infighting cannot, and should not, be allowed to threaten our base,” he said.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 1:19:30 PM |

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