Fellow Congress leaders give Sanjay Nirupam a breather

After a series of skirmishes between its senior leaders, the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) is now headed for some united action. In a development that will help the party act as a potent Opposition force, the leaders have promised to lend MRCC president Sanjay Nirupam, a helping hand in pursuing an agenda against the BJP-Shiv Sena in the run-up to the 2017 civic polls.

Nirupam had a meeting of MRCC executive committee and senior leaders, including ex-MRCC chief Gurudas Kamat, at the party’s Azad Maidan headquarters on Monday. This interaction is said to be a fall-out of deliberations between Nirupam and Kamat in New Delhi on August 25.

Both had assured each other that they would put their differences aside and work together on party matters. A host of subjects, including MRCC’s agenda ahead of the civic polls, were discussed at Monday’s meeting. Kamat-led group has been demanding that Nirupam change his working style and seek democratic approach in running MRCC.

The group is not happy because the main positions in MRCC are held by president’s supporters, from his Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency. Leaders associated with Kamat, former MPs Priya Dutt and Milind Deora, have accused Nirupam of sidelining them.

Monday’s meeting, which was attended by Kamat and Dutt is expected to give Nirupam a breather. Deora had prior engagements but his loyalists were present. “Among many things we discussed on Monday were matters of priority. One of the burning issues affecting people across class, creed and religion is spiralling electricity tariff in the city.

We have started a signature campaign against the government and four power distribution companies. We have taken some 20 lakh signatures and equal number of bills so far,” said Nirupam. Nirupam said the party has planned 120 public meetings to tell voters how the Sena and BJP have failed in providing basic amenities in the metro. The meetings will start after festivals, he said.

“We are preparing ward-wise data on Mumbai-related issues. A specialized agency has been appointed to study this and give us analysis of things like facilities created and funds used. Prima facie it appears that there have been many irregularities in the infra projects,” said the president.

Suggestions for Nirupam
“MLA Naseem Khan suggested that the agenda of such meetings should be decided in advance and circulated. Ex-MRCC president Kripashankar Singh asked Nirupam to not attend each agitation and instead let junior leaders take charge,” a leader said, adding that MRCC’s past president, Janardan Chandurkar also guided his successor.

An invitee said some senior leaders felt that Nirupam should be more realistic in making ‘towering’ claims such as obtaining signatures from 20 lakh consumers in the city and suburbs. “There are about 40 lakh power consumers, and somehow it was difficult to digest the claim that half of them have already submitted bills and signatures to the Congress.

None of us countered the president’s claim because we wanted the interaction to go on without any heated arguments. But I wish his claim proves correct because it will help us in proving that the Congress workers are really working hard these days,” the leader said, hoping the truce doesn’t prove short-lived. Kamat did not respond to a text message asking for his comment.

Congress agenda for Mumbai

>> Put up united front through unanimous decisions. Iron out differences between leaders, if any, on a priority basis through frequent interactions 

>> Intensify agitation against spiralling electricity bills of the power distribution companies

>> Hold as many morchas and protests in the 36 Assembly segments. Leaders at all levels will take lead in such initiatives 

>> Organise 120 meetings for telling people as to how the Sena-BJP has failed in providing even basic facilities

>> Use data provided by a professional agency that is working on analyzing the Sena-BJP’s alleged failure. The said agency had worked for AAP ahead of Assembly polls in New Delhi

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