Urmila Matondkar quits Congress over 'infighting, betrayal'
Congress insiders have, however, claimed that the reasons are beyond what Urmila Matondkar has claimed in her resignation
Urmila Matondkar, the actor-turned-politician who contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls for Congress from Mumbai North, quit the party on Tuesday after the party ignored her complaint against certain leaders who allegedly worked against her during the election campaign. She blamed her decision on the betrayal and infighting between the key functionaries of Mumbai Congress. She said they were either unable or not committed to bringing about a change and transformation in the organisation.
Matondkar, who had joined the Congress ahead of Lok Sabha polls, released a note to the media on Tuesday afternoon and refused requests for personal interviews. "I've resigned from the Indian National Congress. The first thought of resignation came when no action was taken in pursuance of my letter dated May 16 addressed to then Mumbai Congress president Milind Deora. Thereafter, to my utter dismay, the letter containing privileged and confidential communication was conveniently leaked to the media which was an act of blatant betrayal," she said.
"Needless to say, no one from the party was apologetic or even concerned towards me despite my repeated protests. Significantly, some persons specifically named in my letter for the shoddy performance of INC (the Congress) in Mumbai North were rewarded with newer positions instead of holding them accountable for their acts and omissions." The actor who lost to BJP's heavyweight Gopal Shetty made an alarming remark of the city Congress leadership.
"It is obvious that the key functionaries of Mumbai Congress are either unable or not committed to bring about a change and transformation in the organisation for the betterment of the party. My political and social sensibilities refuse to allow vested interests in the party to use me as a mean to fight petty in-house politics instead of working on a bigger goal in Mumbai Congress. I stand by all my thoughts and ideologies and will continue to work for people to the best of my capacity with honesty and dignity," she said.
Mumbai Congress general secretary Bhushan Patil, one of the leaders Matondkar had accused of shoddy performance, told mid-day, "I'm deeply hurt. Urmilaji got 30,000 more votes than the Congress candidate in previous Lok Sabha polls. Wasn't that better performance? She had called me after the elections to say that she had no complaints whatsoever against me and whatever she had said in a meeting was a misunderstanding," he said.
Patil said the complaint the actor made against him and three other Congress loyalists despite their sincere hard work shocked them. "When there was a huge shortfall of campaign fund, I not only raised the money but also managed her campaign successfully. We even found a way out when she was reluctant to address several meetings in a day," said Patil.
Party insiders said Matondkar was upset because her recommendations for the Assembly polls in Mumbai North's six segments and some other places were not considered. "She wanted a veto which no leader in the Congress is entitled to. The decisions are made at the top level. She was also interested in contesting Assembly either from Malad (if sitting MLA Aslam Shaikh is dropped) or from her home constituency Bandra (west) against education minister Ashish Shelar," said a leader.
According to another leader, seniors in the party tried to pacify the actor but in vain. "In fact, she had appreciated the work put in by the leaders who she complained against later. In Congress, one has to ignore certain things or fight them tacitly and move on," said the leader, adding that the party leadership did not approve of her approach.
Nirupam's advice didn't work
Former Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam, who was instrumental in inducting the actor in the Congress before he was unceremoniously removed from the post, said that he had advised her to not take infighting seriously and instead focus on her political career that had started shaping up. "She fought very well. She had a bright future. I had warned her against letting some people use her for their own petty politics. Look what has happened now."
Deora said he supported Matondkar through her campaign wholeheartedly as the president of Mumbai Congress. "I stood by her when the people who brought her in (as Lok Sabha candidate) let her down. I fully agree that the Mumbai North leaders must be held accountable," he said. Eknath Gaikwad said he would try to convince her to reconsider. "I will meet her at the earliest and discuss her concerns," he said.
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Congress candidate Urmila Matondkar loses to BJP's Gopal Shetty