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Rahul interviews candidates for Mumbai Cong chief

The process of naming a new chief for the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) gained momentum with the All India Congress Committee (AICC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to go for personal interviews with probable candidates.

Bhai Jagtap Madhu Chavan Janardhan Chandurkar
(From left) MLC Bhai Jagtap, MLA Madhu Chavan and former MLA Janardhan Chandurkar were short-listed for the post of MRCC chief

On Monday, the leader interacted with three short-listed candidates for the post - MLC Bhai Jagtap, MLA Madhu Chavan and ex-MLA Janardhan Chandurkar. The interview sessions follow his visit to the city on March 1 to assess ground realities, which saw the leader conducting eight meetings on a trot with the Congress mass in Mumbai.

He also held separate meetings with Congress ministers from Mumbai - Suresh Shetty, Naseem Khan and Professor Varsha Gaikwad, after summoning them to New Delhi on Monday. Though none of them was ready to share details of their interaction with Gandhi, sources said discussion centered on naming the new chief for the city unit.

His personal interest in the affairs of party’s city unit has spurred speculation among party leaders in the city over early polls to Lok Sabha. “It appears that the Congress high command wants a Marathi candidate to lead the city unit after experimenting with a north Indian,” said a minister. “This could be in view of the MNS challenge playing the Marathi card,” he added.

Hunting for fresh talent
Rahul had stated during one of the back-to-back meetings with Mumbai Congress cadres on March 1 that he doesn’t want a ‘Congress of netas’ but a ‘Congress of the Congress organisation’, implying he wanted new faces to lead rather than those dominating the party for years with their clout. The MRCC president’s post has been lying vacant since last February, after the then MRCC president Kripashankar Singh was forced to resign following court directives in a case of amassing wealth disproportionate to known sources of his income.

During the period of one year, Congress activities in Mumbai have come to a standstill in the absence of a city unit chief. The new president already has his task cutout: to face the challenge posed by the MNS and the Shiv Sena-BJP combine. The task becomes even more arduous against the backdrop of inflationary unrest and a spate of scams that have forced the party on the defensive, party men say. Meanwhile, efforts to know the details of the interviews with the three candidates failed to elicit any response.

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