Marred with dissidence and internal bickering, the Mumbai city Congress unit will soon be on party leader Rahul Gandhi’s radar. The AICC general secretary will be spending a day, probably March 1 or 2, solely for the purpose of gauging the mood within the party in Mumbai. A headless body since February 2012, the Mumbai Congress unit has not been able to appoint a successor to Kripashankar Singh, who had to resign as chief of the party’s city unit following litigations over his disproportionate assets case.
Various names cropped up in the interim, said to be under active consideration to head the city unit, but AICC has kept the matter pending. As a stopgap arrangement, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manikrao Thakre has been asked to drop by at the city unit office once a week. Rahul Gandhi’s visit is significant after his taking over as the campaign committee chief and personally supervising the party affairs in various states and big cities. As per the message from the AICC headquarters, Rahul, say Congress leaders from the city, will hear views of the six district unit chiefs of the party and prominent leaders. A communiqué has been sent to the office bearers to be prepared with their views and ideas to rejuvenate the city unit.
Five Lok Sabha members and 17 MLAs along with Rajya Sabha members and MLCs may also call on Rahul. The city has been witnessing a cold war between groups owing allegiance to former city unit chief and Mumbai North West MP Gurudas Kamat, and Kripashankar Singh, who represents Kalina in state assembly. It has also been conjectured that due to the show of strength by these factions, the party’s central leadership decided to put off the decision on appointment of new city unit chief.
Another important issue that may be broached before Rahul Gandhi is the performance of Congress councillors at BMC, said a party leader. “Our corporators have failed to rise to the expectations and put up a solid opposition before the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliance,” he said, adding there were complaints against Dnyanraj Nikam, the leader of opposition in BMC.
The issue of minorities from Mumbai not getting enough representation in state assembly and Lok Sabha, based on the population ratio, may figure during discussions, say party men. Above all, what is important for Congress leaders in Mumbai is that the city affairs will be lent an ear to by Rahul himself, which has never happened in the past. Previously, this was the job of party office bearers deputed by AICC. “Since Rahul is tipped to be the next prime ministerial candidate and Mumbai being the business capital of India, his visit will prove a turning point for us,” a Congress office bearer said.