Mumbai Congress Rejig: Deora takes over from Nirupam, Urmila may contest on Congress ticket

Mumbai Congress Rejig: Deora takes over from Nirupam, Urmila may contest on Congress ticket
Ahead of the crucial polls, the party approved a change in leadership to curb infighting and approached actress to contest on a Congress ticket from Mumbai North constituency

The Congress’ Mumbai unit is witnessing a cataclysmic change, with former Union minister Milind Deora taking over the reins from Sanjay Nirupam and speculation over actress Urmila Matondkar entry into politics on a Congress ticket.

The Congress Party on Monday appointed former Union minister Milind Deora as Mumbai Regional Congress Committee chief, replacing Sanjay Nirupam.

“Congress president Rahul Gandhi has appointed Milind Deora as the new president of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC). The party appreciates the contribution of outgoing president Sanjay Nirupam,” a statement from the party said.

Sanjay Nirupam ousted as MRCC chief

Nirupam had been at loggerheads with senior party leaders in the state since the last few months. The decision to replace him ahead of the crucial polls was taken in a bid to curb infighting within the Congress’ Mumbai Unit.

The outgoing chief, meanwhile, was nominated as the party candidate from the Mumbai North-West Lok Sabha constituency, where he will go head to head against Shiv Sena’s Gajanan Kirtikar.

While he was lobbying for the Mumbai North seat, where he had lost by a margin of 4.5 lakh votes to BJP’s Gopal Shetty in 2014, the party gave him a ticket for the Mumbai North-West constituency where he stands a better chance of winning.

Nirupam, a former two-time Rajya Sabha member and was earlier with the Shiv Sena, was appointed the president of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee in March 2017.

During his two-year stint as the MRCC chief, the party witnessed bdckerings and increased differences among local leadership leading to public spats.

When asked to comment about the development, Nirupam said he wouldn’t have been able to do justice if he had been asked to juggle both responsibilities and called the Congress’ chief’s decision an intelligent one.

“I was doubtful if I would’ve been able to do justice, had I worked while also being Mumbai Congress chief. Congress President took an intelligent decision and I welcome it,” he said.

The outgoing city chief also called Deora his ‘younger brother’ and assured him of his support.

Milind Deora takes charge

Milind Deora is the son of former oil minister Murli Deora, who was in charge of the party’s Mumbai Unit for over two decades. He is also a close aide of Congress President.

Earlier this year, the senior leader had hinted at problems in the Congress’ Mumbai unit but termed them solvable. As discord among the party grew, the high-command took a decision and called for a change in leadership.

“I thank former party President Sonia ji & Rahul ji who gave me this responsibility at such a crucial time. Mumbai is a city of diversity, we’ll take everyone together and present a positive agenda to Mumbaikar,” Deora said after taking charge.

“I appeal to all leaders and workers to work unitedly, defending and furthering party ideals. The city of Mumbai needs politics of inclusive development. In my tenure I will focus on holistic development, with a focus on housing for all, protection to small and medium enterprises and enriching social and communal harmony,” he added.

Deora will take on Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant in the South Mumbai seat, where the latter might have an edge.

Actress Urmila Matondkar may contest on Congress ticket

Speculation is rife over Bollywood actress Urmila Matondkar’s possible entry into politics as a Congress candidate in Mumbai. The actress is being considered for a Congress nomination from Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency.

According to reports, her name is at “an advanced stage of consideration by the party leadership” and that the final decision could be announced shortly.

If nominated, Matondkar’s will go up against BJP incumbent MP Gopal Shetty in the constituency that was once regarded a BJP bastion.

However, Bollywood actor Govinda caused a major upset when he trounced the former Petroleum Minister Ram Naik. The BJP stalwart faced second consecutive defeat in 2009 at the hands of Nirupam.

Meanwhile, an official confirmation from the All India Congress Committee on the actress’ association with the party is awaited.

It was also speculated that actor Raj Babbar or former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin would contest as Congress nominees, but both denied the rumours.

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