Although Congress was doing well under Gurudas Kamat’s leadership in Gujarat, the party command wanted to make changes
Various theories are doing the rounds behind former union minister Gurudas Kamat’s sudden decision to retire from active politics, particularly one connected to Gujarat, although the senior Congress leader has denied any fall-out with the party high command - Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Meanwhile several party leaders and workers are making attempts to reach out to Kamat and persuade him to withdraw his resignation.
Senior Congress leader Gurudas Kamat tweeted yesterday that although he was retiring from politics, he would continue with social work. File pic
Neglecting Kamat in the matters related to Mumbai is definitely one of the reasons behind his resignation, said a senior leader from New Delhi, but he added that it was more to do with another BJP-ruled state where Kamat was in charge as the Congress general secretary – Gujarat. Other than Gujarat, Kamat has been in charge of another BJP-led state Rajasthan and some union territories as well.
“It’s a top level matter concerning party high-command. Mumbai is just one of the reasons that prompted Kamat to take the extreme step,” said the senior leader, requesting anonymity.
According to him, the Congress leadership wanted some other leader to replace Kamat as the general secretary in charge in Gujarat, in view of some important development in the recent past. Under Kamat’s leadership, the Congress has done well in Gujarat’s local body elections. The state will have the Assembly polls next year, and Kamat was expected to once again lead a good show against the BJP. However, in a sudden development on Monday, Kamat not only quit the Congress, but also declared his retirement from active politics. Congress circles in Mumbai fear that Kamat’s absence from city politics could dent the party’s prospects in the BMC polls next year.
'Gandhis didn't reply'
Kamat did not even meet his supporters who turned up at his Chembur residence, but he sent a message to them pleading his loyalty to the Gandhi family. “I would like to emphasise that I have the highest respect and regard for Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi and my resignation is purely on personal grounds,” he said. He added that he must take a backseat so others could get more opportunities.
On Monday, Kamat said that he had met Sonia about 10 days ago and expressed a desire to resign from all party posts. He added that the Gandhis had not replied to his resignation letter, hence he decided to retire from politics.
“Subsequently, I sent letters to both Soniaji and Rahulji [saying] that I would like to exit. Since there was no reply, I have formally informed that I would like to retire from politics.”
Reconsider, say Congress leaders
Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil Opposition leader in Assembly
Our party needs him most ahead of the BMC polls. He should honour our sentiments. I will personally request him to change his mind.
Sanjay Dutt, Congress MLC
He should continue to strengthen the Congress and our leaders, Sonia Gandhi ji and Rahul Gandhi ji. Kamat ji is a role model for party activists, especially the youth and Congress loyalists.
Congress workers, along with those from Women's Congress, Youth Congress, NSUI, and members of Seva dal, will gather tomorrow at 11 am at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan, the Mumbai Congress headquarters, to urge Kamat to take back his resignation. The show of strength is expected to turn into a face-off between the Kamat camp and Nirupam camp.
Will Sonia intervene?
Sources in the Congress said that the general secretary in charge of Maharashtra, Mohan Prakash, had a telephonic discussion with Kamat yesterday. Kamat is reported to have told him that he would open up only before party president Sonia Gandhi.
“Kamat expects Sonia Gandhi to ask him to come over to Delhi. He says that he will express his anguish to Sonia and no other leader. Otherwise, he will not even think of changing his mind,” said a leader.
Hurt: Ashok Chavan
State Congress president Ashok Chavan, who had worked under Kamat in the Youth Congress some three decades ago, said he felt hurt after learning of the ex-MP’s decision.
“He is our trusted leader, and a party loyalist, who was my youth Congress president,” Chavan told mid-day. “I have no way to contact or meet him. Whenever I meet him, I will discuss the issue with him. I will comment only after I know exact reason behind his decision.”
Nirupam faces heat
Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam, with whom Kamat has serious issues, refused to comment. But resentment is brewing in the party against Nirupam for leaving senior leaders out of decisions. Ex-Congress MLA Krishna Hegde accused Nirupam of high-handedness while appointing office bearers.
“Majority of elected representatives were not consulted in these appointments. Loyalists and influential senior leaders should be taken into confidence and given their due in the party matters. Congress should have a positive feel before the BMC elections,” he said. Nirupam denied the charge and said that Hegde was not willing to work for the party, but sought time to concentrate on his family business.