The cold war between the Gurudas Kamat and Sanjay Nirupam factions was on display even on the late PM’s 71st birth anniversary yesterday; ignoring the Mumbai unit chief’s plans for a bike rally, Kamat led a group to pay tribute a full two hours before Nirupam’s flock got there
The game of one-upmanship being played in the Mumbai Congress is seemingly so intense that the unit couldn’t manage a show of unity even on the 71st birth anniversary of former PM and party president Rajiv Gandhi, late husband of current party president Sonia Gandhi.
Kamat and his group paying tribute at the Rajiv Gandhi statue in Cooperage Stadium yesterday. They reached there at 9 am, two hours before Nirupam led a group of over 1,000 motorcycle riders there
Barely a fortnight after the last such skirmish, a group of office-bearers led by former Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) president Gurudas Kamat rejected incumbent president Sanjay Nirupam’s idea of taking out a ‘Sadbhavana’ (goodwill) motorcycle rally and, instead, reached the Cooperage Stadium to pay homage to the departed leader even before Nirupam could get there. Kamat left with his group immediately afterwards.
mid-day had reported on August 7 how, in defiance of Nirupam’s diktat, Kamat had encouraged the party’s frontal organisations to hold a massive morcha against the BJP to protest the suspension of 25 party MPs a day after the MRCC president had led a silent march to Hutatma Square over the same issue.
It was clearly an attempt to show strength and party workers loyal to Nirupam had refrained from taking part in the protest organised by Kamat. When Nirupam attempted his own show of strength yesterday, by appealing to party workers to participate in a motorcycle rally from the Race Course to the Rajiv Gandhi statue at the Cooperage stadium, Kamat led his own flock to the venue at 9 am, almost two hours before Nirupam and his supporters riding more than 1,000 motorbikes — reached the spot.
Kamat was accompanied by presidents of party’s main frontal organisations for youth (Ganesh Yadav), women (Sheetal Mhatre), students (Bipin Singh), scheduled caste/tribes (Ganesh Kamble), minorities (Nizamuddin Rais) and opposition leader in BMC Ravindra Ambekar. Ex- MRCC president and MLC Janardan Chandurkar and ex-MLAs Rajhans Singh and Baldev Khosa were also present.
Playing it down
When Nirupam was asked about this, he told mid-day that he would not look at Kamat’s act as one of defiance. “I’m told Mr Kamat had a Delhi-bound flight to take and hence he reached there early. My intention behind holding a rally was to get workers from all corners of the city together for a good cause,” he said, adding that he was very happy with the response from the party workers.
Congress leaders ex-MP Eknath Gaikwad, MLC Bhai Jagtap, MLA Aslam Sheikh and many others accompanied Nirupam in the rally, which the MRCC president said was supported well by the city traffic police department. Leaders loyal to Kamat only said they thought the idea of holding a motorbike rally did not suit the occasion. “We have been gathering at Rajivji’s statue since 2001. We pay him tributes in a low-profile manner,” said an ex-MLA.