City Cong leaders meet Rahul, demand Nirupam’s removal
They tried to convince the party president that Sanjay Nirupam had become a liability rather than a strength ahead of the elections
A MOVEMENT within the Mumbai Congress, for demanding city unit chief Sanjay Nirupam’s removal, has gained momentum with senior leaders making a plea to party president Rahul Gandhi, that a change in command would be good for the party.
Nine leaders met Gandhi in the capital on Friday afternoon for over 40 minutes in which they read out reasons for raising the demand. State in-charge Mallikarjun Kharge and AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot were present at the meeting. The first step in the anti-Nirupam drive was completed in Mumbai a fortnight ago, when the local leaders had met here. Kharge had collected the inputs to take the issue before the party president. According to sources, senior leaders Eknath Gaikwad, Naseem Khan, Kripa Shankar Singh, Janardan Chandurkar, Amin Patel, Baba Siddiqui, Bhai Jagtap, Madhu Chavan, and city youth unit president Ganesh Yadav interacted with Gandhi.
‘Doesn’t consult seniors’
One of the attendees said the meeting was very positive. “The party president gave us a patient listening and allowed us to reason before him. All of us talked in the interest of the party and tried to convince him (Gandhi) why Nirupam had become a liability rather than a strength ahead of the elections,” said the leader.
Another leader said Nirupam’s controversial conduct, speeches and statements have been harming the party more and more, and dividing its base on the lines of regionalism, caste and religion. They mentioned Nirupam’s latest remark on north Indian migrants, who according to him, were able to bring Mumbai to a standstill if they decided to stop working. The statement had evoked a strong reaction from within the Congress and other parties. “We told Mr Gandhi that Nirupam is unilateral and doesn’t consult seniors and party loyalists before taking any decision. We said that this man [Nirupam] sometimes acted like a non-Congress leader because his conduct, remarks and so-called strategy helped the BJP and Sena more than his parent party,” said another attendee.
Who’s in the reckoning
Other than former minister Milind Deora, who insiders said would be the first choice and acceptable to all factions in the city Congress, former city chief Kripa Shankar Singh, too, is lobbying hard for the position. Another name that supporters of the late Gurudas Kamat want the job to be given to is the departed leader’s protégé Amarjeet Singh Manhas. However, some leaders, except youth chief Yadav, who met Gandhi, are also aspiring to be the city Congress president. Deora said he would take up the responsibility if given the task by the party president.
Nirupam said he had nothing to say about the development.
‘We told Mr Gandhi that this man [Nirupam] sometimes acted like a non-Congress leader because his conduct, remarks and so-called strategy helped the BJP and Sena more than his parent party’