Mumbai Cong gifts corrupt party worker a RaGa moment
Party leader claims controversial MRCC worker, accused in bribery case, was allowed to welcome and shake hands with Rahul Gandhi during his visit to the city this month
Sanjay Nirupam-led Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) has landed in yet another controversy that might be a reason for a big embarrassment to party president Rahul Gandhi, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
This time, the MRCC allegedly got a local party worker, accused of taking bribes to clear films by the censor board, to welcome and shake hands with Gandhi when he arrived at MMRDA Grounds in BKC on March 1. The allegation has been made by Dr Nackson Natke, representative of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC). Natke said it was "shocking" that Sarvesh Jayswal, who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) five years ago, and later booked and charge-sheeted, was given an access card and introduced to Gandhi by MRCC president Sanjay Nirupam.
Sanjay Nirupam with Jayswal, MRCC party worker Sarvesh Jayswal, who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) in 2014, seen shaking hands with Rahul Gandhi, while Nirupam looks on
Favouritism in MRCC?
"What is happening in the Mumbai Congress? Sincere workers are not being given an opportunity to meet Rahulji, but a shady character gets preference only because he is close to the MRCC bosses," Natke told mid-day on Saturday.
Jayswal, the former state Congress committee member and advisory panel member of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), was arrested in 2014, for allegedly accepting bribes on behalf of CBFC CEO Rakesh Kumar. CBFC's authorised agent Shripathi Mishra had also been booked along with Jayswal. Based on their confession, the CEO was later arrested.
Natke demanded action against the office-bearers in-charge of recommending people lined up behind the dais to welcome Gandhi. "Absolute favouritism and ruthless attitude. This hurt us. Our highest leader will be embarrassed when he learns about the incident," said Natke.
Bhushan Patil, MRCC general secretary and in-charge of Gandhi's rally, said that the MRCC, based on certain criteria such as positions in the party, recommended names to the police for further verification. "In case there are political cases registered against our leaders, we give an undertaking to the police that we will be responsible," he said. But when told about Jayswal's case and asked about the position he held in the MRCC, he said he would seek more information from his party colleagues.
'I earned the right'
When contacted, Jayswal argued that he had been falsely implicated in the bribery case. "The police included my name in the charge sheet though I had proven my innocence. If I was not innocent, why would the court release me on a bail and personal bond?," he asked.
He said he didn't know about the current status of the case against him. "Am I infected with a viral disease that doesn't allow me to be in public and party functions? What I know is that I'm a small yet sincere Congress worker, and that alone gives me the right to welcome and meet Rahulji."
He said if the complainants wanted the party to apply the same parameters to all, then, why were senior leaders like an ex-MRCC president who is accused of corruption and amassing assets disproportionate to the known source of income, allowed to share the dais with the Congress president? He claimed that the BJP, too, had top rank leaders who were being tried for serious crimes.
MRCC's previous shocker
Three years ago, MRCC embarrassed the party when MRCC's mouthpiece ran injudicious articles on party's icons Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and former president Sonia Gandhi. The November/December-2015 issues of the Mumbai unit's mouthpiece Congress Darshan had said that Nehru was to blame for the Kashmir, China and Tiber conflicts, while another article alleged that Sonia's father was a fascist soldier. The articles took digs at Nehru and raised questions about his rise as India's first prime minister, and took potshots at Indira's "troubled marriage". MRCC president Sanjay Nirupam, who also edited the mouthpiece, was given a reprieve in the case.
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