2017 BMC polls: Congress keeps warring factions busy

Oct 27, 2016, 06:46 IST | Dharmendra Jore

As part of its plan to contest the 2017 BMC polls, Gurudas Kamat will lead a pack of star campaigners, Deora will head design publicity material, and Nirupam will raise funds

Sanjay Nirupam and Milind Deora will be heading two different committees
Sanjay Nirupam and Milind Deora will be heading two different committees

While the Shiv Sena and BJP continue their slugfest before deciding on whether they are going it alone or together, the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) has rounded up all its warring leaders to combine efforts and contest the upcoming BMC polls. The party’s high command has approved 15 sub-committees, to be led by influential leaders, including former MPs, ex-presidents and ministers.

Gurudas Kamat
Gurudas Kamat

Star campaign team drawn
The MRCC sub-committees comprise leaders from various factions, religions, castes/communities and ethnic groups that have a sizable presence in the city and can swing election results. For instance, the party’s all India general secretary, ex-union minister and former Mumbai Congress chief, Gurudas Kamat, who had dramatically quit a couple of months ago, but was convinced to stay, has been tasked with addressing many election rallies. Kamat will lead a pack of star campaigners committee, which has another fiery public speaker — former CM Narayan Rane.

Dalit leaders Eknath Gaikwad (ex-MP), Janardan Chandurkar (ex-MRCC president) and Chandrakant Handore (ex-social justice minister), MLC Bhai Jagtap, Janet D’Souza and Javed Khan (coordinator) are other members of the star campaign team. The key speakers will address major public meetings and corner meetings.

Other than local star campaigners, the Congress is also likely to bring in some national leaders to make its campaign more aggressive against the Shiv Sena-BJP government in the BMC.

Strategy committee in place
Ex-MRCC chief Kripashankar Singh, who held ministerial positions in the state government and is known for his political shrewdness, will head the election strategy committee. MLAs Varsha Gaikwad and Aslam Sheikh, Madhu Chavan, and ex-minister Baba Siddiqui will be part of Kripashankar’s backroom team.

Ex-union minister Milind Deora, who is tech-savvy and the current face of the party’s youth, will plan the entire campaign. His team — Naseem Khan (MLA), Amin Patel (MLA), Dharmesh Vyas, Ratnesh Singh and Bhushan Patil (coordinator) — will look after the creative aspects of campaign plans, brainstorming ideas and executing them. Campaign planning team will be supported by a social media team, to be operated under the leadership of Sushiben Shah.

Vision for Mumbai
Ex-MP Priya Dutt has been entrusted the job of making an effective poll manifesto and preparing a mission and vision for Mumbai. She will have Siddiqui, Upendra Joshi, Ajanta Yadav, Priyatama Sawant, Maulana Zahir Rizvi and Charansingh Sapra (coordinator) in her team.

Star campaigners, manifesto and campaign planning committee will get vital inputs from the chargesheet committee that will dig out scams and failures of the Sena-BJP combine. The chargesheet committee, to be headed by BMC veteran Shivji Singh, will substantiate specific charges against the ruling parties with evidence and data. Shivji’s team has senior corporator Pravin Cheda, ex-MLA Ashok Jadhav, Waqarunnisa Ansari, Winnie D’Souza and Mohsin Hyder (coordinator).

Demographics and activities
Ex-minister Suresh Shetty’s action plan committee will prepare demographic profiles of each electoral ward and prepare a strategy accordingly. Meanwhile, mass contact committee to be headed by Sapra will organise padayatras and block-wise meetings under a ‘BMC ka Pol Khol’ (expose the BMC) programme, in which the chargesheet panel’s material will be used extensively.

Alongside, Varsha Gaikwad has been asked to lead a 13-member team to hold poll-related activities. Her task will include making its door-to-door campaign more effective.

As various communities hold a sway in certain pockets of Mumbai, ex-MLA Yusuf Abrahani will have his team organize interactive sessions and public meetings with ethnic and caste groups.

Keeping it all together
Since violation of model code of election usually lands the party and candidates in big trouble, a compliance team — to be headed by Ashok Shetty — will ensure laws and rules are followed while reorganisation (delimitation) of wards and reservations in 227 wards will be tackled by Baba Siddqui’s team.

Ultimately though, MRCC president Sanjay Nirupam, will be overall in-charge of the party’s BMC polls process, and he has taken it upon himself to raise funds for election management. Nirupam’s close aide, MRCC treasurer Aslam Sheikh, Kamat’s trusted man Amarjit Singh Manhas, Chitrasen Singh and Bhushan Patil (coordinator) will help in the process.

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