Pravin Chheda replaces Devendra Amberkar as Leader of Opposition in BMC

Announcement to be made in the General Assembly soon; Devendra Amberkar belongs to the Gurudas Kamat camp, while Pravin Chheda is close to Sanjay Nirupam

In what is being seen as another crack in the city Congress, Sanjay Nirupam has replaced the leader of opposition (LoP) in the BMC, Devendra Amberkar, with Pravin Chheda. Amberkar belongs to the Gurudas Kamat camp while Chheda is seen as close to Nirupam. A letter to this effect has been sent to the Mayor and an official announcement will be made in the general assembly soon.

(Left) Chheda was part of the BJP before moving to Congress. Amberkar said he was not given any indication of the move.
(Left) Chheda was part of the BJP before moving to Congress. Amberkar said he was not given any indication of the move.

mid-day had, in a series of reports, exposed the differences between city party chief Nirupam and former chief Gurudas Kamat. Kamat is currently the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and reportedly had problems with Nirupam’s style of functioning. He had criticised Nirupam after the latter took a strong stand in the eviction of hawkers. After the calm of a few months, the BMC is again abuzz with the same rivalry resurfacing. Nirupam has written to the Mayor informing her of his decision and the matter is expected to be formally announced in the general assembly. Devendra Amberkar has been the leader of opposition in the BMC for the past two years. He is known to have been close to the Gurudas Kamat-faction.

The move is also seen as the Congress’ attempt to woo the Gujarati vote bank, since traditionally Gujaratis are perceived as voters of the BJP. Chheda is a Gujarati corporator from Ghatkopar. He was part of the BJP before moving to Congress in 2012.

Unhappy leaders
A disgruntled Amberkar said, “I was not given any indication of this move. Everything happened overnight. Neither was I consulted, nor informed. It seems party functionaries were unhappy with the scams in road works we have been exposing. Kamat had written a letter to the CM while MLA Vijay Wadettiwar had held a press conference. Nirupam is unhappy because of that. I don’t know why. I have spoken to other senior party leaders in the matter.”

Sanjay Nirupam said, “All these are rumours. The decision of changing LoP was long pending. Amberkar was appointed by the party for one year only but we let him stay for two years. I spoke to a lot of people within the party. They were all of the view that the Congress can do more... that a lot more was expected from the party. Then, an order came from Delhi that the decision should be taken now.”

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