Ex-Mumbai Congress head Gurudas Kamat blasts Sanjay Nirupam for anti-BMC tirade

AICC General Secretary Gurudas Kamat, who has a large support base in the Mumbai Congress, has tendered his apology to the civic chief on behalf of the party

Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam is at the receiving end of Gurudas Kamat’s ire for allegedly threatening to beat up municipal officials if the hawkers’ issue is not resolved in the manner proposed by him. Party colleague and former Union minister, Kamat, who once headed the Mumbai Congress has lashed out at Nirupam, saying that if a leader issues a threat, it does not reflect the values and sentiments of the Congress party.

face off: Sanjay Nirupam and Gurudas Kamat
Face off: Sanjay Nirupam and Gurudas Kamat

“The party (Congress) does not believe in illegal actions or taking the law in our own hands or provoking others to do the same,” Kamat told sunday mid-day. “The Congress has a rich history of 130 years of service and sacrifice, which new entrants (in the party) need to understand, and act accordingly,” he said, without naming Nirupam, who was in the Shiv Sena before joining the Congress.

According to sources close to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, Kamat, who is also general secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), has tendered his apology to the civic chief on behalf of the party. Kamat has urged Mehta to protect hawkers by drafting and implementing an appropriate hawker policy as early as possible.

Kamat apprised Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi of the threat issued to Mumbai civic officials when he accompanied the leader on a visit to Rajasthan on Friday.

The confrontation
The incident occured in Mehta’s office on Thursday, when Nirupam was leading a delegation of party workers and hawkers. The delegation was infuriated when Mehta rejected the demand, and told leaders that the ongoing action against hawkers would continue unabated.

Turf war
Kamat’s move is seen as counter to Nirupam, who took over the reigns of the Mumbai Congress early this year. But the former president controls the largest faction in the party, and has been able to have maximum representation for his supporters in the Mumbai Congress committee. Kamat’s supporters are not happy and accuse Nirupam of taking unilateral decisions.

Kamat has reminded Congress workers that the UPA government had passed a law to protect licensed hawkers across the country from extortion by officials, local goons and even political workers, and also rehabilitate them by allotting suitable spaces. He has appealed to party workers to not use abusive language while addressing officials or threatening them on the lines of other political outfits in the city.

Nirupam refused to comment on the issue. However, those close to him said that the leader wanted the party high command to intervene in the issue, since it was the UPA that had formulated the law, but the BMC was shying away from implementing it.

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