Says he has been put on bed rest owing to exhaustion; detractors say he has been sulking ever since Sanjay Nirupam was given charge of city Congress unit
When Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi undertakes a whistle-stop tour of the city on Tuesday, senior party leader Gurudas Kamat will be conspicuous by his absence from the bevy of leaders accompanying him. While Kamat’s detractors said he has been sulking ever since Sanjay Nirupam was given complete control of the city unit of the party, he said he decided to skip the visit owing to ill-health.
Kamat maintained that he has been advised a week’s bed rest by doctors because of exhaustion and asked his supporters to make Rahul’s visit a success.
His text message, which has been in circulation, read, “I have been advised complete bed rest for a week due to exhaustion. Hence, I’m unable to attend meetings in Nagpur and Mumbai. Please ensure all success of Honble Congress VP Shri Rahul Gandhiji’s programmes on 12th April in Mumbai.”
Kamat told mid-day that he’s suffering from acute exhaustion and was put on bed rest by his doctor on Sunday. “I was to fly to Nagpur on Monday morning and return the same night. The flight tickets had been taken. I have instructed our people to make all programmes [of Rahul] successful. I had sent 45,000 SMSes on Sunday to party workers, all corporators, MLA candidates and office-bearers of Mumbai Congress as well as the women and youth wings to make the programmes successful. There is no question of any dispute over working for Soniaji’s or Rahulji’s programmes.”
However, a senior leader from a faction not affiliated with Kamat said there is more to the absence than meets the eye. “Many of us believe that he (Kamat) has something else on his mind. He is unpredictable and he has been sulking since Nirupam was given a lease of life recently by the high command.”
Kamat, the party’s national general secretary is also in charge of the Congress’ affairs in BJP-ruled Rajasthan and Gujarat. He has a reputation of refusing offers that he doesn’t want to take up. He had quietly rejected a ministerial berth in a reshuffle of the Manmohan Singh cabinet. When he knew that he had been given an insignificant rank and portfolio, he immediately left New Delhi for Mumbai and remained incommunicado for several days.
Equations in the city Congress have always been dicey. Nirupam, who completed a year in the Mumbai Congress office recently, has had a tough time. Sometimes, he invited trouble as in the case of the party’s mouthpiece, which had published articles demeaning late iconic leaders Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Sardar Patel, and incumbent party president Sonia Gandhi. In the wake of this controversy, a majority of Congress leaders expected the party to sack Nirupam, but Rahul himself put the issue to an end by offering the city president relief.
The factionalism in the city Congress is again gaining prominence ahead of the civic polls to be held next year. Nirupam wants his supporters in command of all frontal organisations that are now controlled by the Kamat faction. Nirupam has been successful in replacing the opposition leader in the BMC, a Kamat supporter, with his trusted man. Of late, he has been seeking a change in leadership of frontal organizations. This is proving to be a bone of contention between the warring groups.
Rahul will visit the Deonar dumping ground today. He will also extend support to agitating jewellers who are protesting excise duty.