Milind Deora emerges as favourite to replace MRCC chief Sanjay Nirupam
Even as the Congress circle in Mumbai is abuzz with rumours that city chief Sanjay Nirupam might be axed following the party’s magazine controversy, former Union minister Milind Deora has emerged as one of the favourites tipped to take over the tricky job of leading the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC).
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Milind Deora could inherit the political legacy of his father, the late Murli Deora, who headed Mumbai Congress for more than two decades; (left) MRCC chief Sanjay Nirupam is in trouble despite apologising for the multiple gaffes in the party mouthpiece edited by him. File pics
The rank and file in the Congress’ city unit — barring those who have a soft corner for Nirupam — want a change of leadership, more so after the party mouthpiece, Congress Darshan, recently published articles that went against the party ideology. MRCC president, Sanjay Nirupam, who also edited the mouthpiece, apologised for the blunder and pleaded innocence to the party high command. However, leaders in Mumbai aren’t satisfied with the apology and demand that he be punished and removed.
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MLA Arif Naseem Khan, who has been demanding Nirupam’s scalp, is joined by many senior leaders in seeking a change. Sources said that some senior Congress leaders have urged the high command to put two-time MP Deora in charge of city affairs. Deora is seen as a leader who respects seniors and can inherit the political legacy of his father, the late Murli Deora, who headed Mumbai Congress for more than two decades. Both father and son have served as ministers in the Congress government at Delhi.
Ex-CM Narayan Rane and his MLA son Nitesh Rane also want Deora at the helm, while former MP Eknath Gaikwad and his legislator daughter Varsha are unlikely to oppose the nomination. Ex-MP Priya Dutt enjoys good rapport with Deora and is expected to cooperate fully with her young party colleague. Deora’s passage may become even smoother, as ex-MRCC president Gurudas Kamat hasn’t shown any interest in the head office. But he may suggest other names like Amarajit Manhas and Rajhans Singh in case Deora is not willing to take charge.
mid-day contacted Deora to ask whether he is ready for the job, but he refused to comment.
While Deora is being sought by his supporters and well-wishers, Maharashtra Congress chief and ex-CM, Ashok Chavan is lobbying for MLC Bhai Jagtap as Nirupam’s replacement. Interestingly, Nirupam too derived strength from Chavan’s patronage.
Rahul to rescue Nirupam?
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is learned to have accepted Sanjay Nirupam’s invitation to Mumbai Congress events to be held on January 16 and 17. In what is being seen as an effort to win back the confidence of the party high command, Nirupam met Rahul on Monday to extend the invitation, said sources. The MRCC president is also learnt to have clarified his position on the mouthpiece controversy to the leader.
The city events will include meetings to be held between Rahul and various sections of the party workers and communities. Sources further said that Rahul may even ask dissidents to stop demanding Nirupam’s resignation and instead work hard for the party ahead of the BMC polls. But Nirupam’s detractors said they would not shy away from expressing their disenchantment in view of the recent controversy.