The Congress on Monday appointed former Union minister Milind Deora the president of its Mumbai unit amid reports of infighting.
“Congress president Rahul Gandhi appointed Milind Deora as the new president of Mumbai Regional Congress Committee,” the party said in a statement. “The party appreciates the contribution of outgoing president Sanjay Nirupam.”
Nirupam was appointed the party’s candidate for the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency earlier in the day, though several leaders reportedly wanted him to contest from the Mumbai North constituency, from which he was elected in 2009. Nirupam, a former Shiv Sena member, had lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Gopal Shetty in 2014.
Deora is considered close to Congress President Rahul Gandhi and is the party’s candidate from the Mumbai South constituency.
“This appointment comes at a challenging time and I commit myself to strengthen the roots of the party in Mumbai,” Deora said on Monday evening, thanking Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. “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 view, Indian National Congress is the only political outfit that truly represents the spirit and nature of the city of Mumbai.”
He promised to “focus on holistic development, with a focus on housing for all, protection to small and medium enterprises and enriching social and communal harmony”.
Soon after his name was announced, Nirupam said, “For last 15 yrs I have been longing to represent the people of North West Mumbai.” He also congratulated Deora and promised to work as a team.
There have reportedly been many complaints about Nirupam’s functioning in the past few months, according to PTI. “There were complaints made about Nirupam’s style of functioning before Congress president Rahul Gandhi and also general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge,” an unidentified party member said. “The matter was very much under consideration. Appointment of a fresh face as the city Congress chief will mean those who were not happy with Nirupam’s style of functioning and were sitting at home will be out for campaigning now.”