Maharashtra Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam on Monday lashed out at his rival Milind Deora amid reports of infighting within the party.

In a tweet apparently addressed to Deora, Nirupam called the former Mumbai Congress chief a “nikamma [useless person]”. He had called Deora “nikamma” in an interview to India Today on October 4 and blamed him for “destroying the Congress”.

The former MP was responding to speculation about his absence from election rallies addressed by former Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Maharashtra on Sunday.

“Speculations and suspicions about my absence in RG’s Mumbai rallies are meaningless,” Nirupam tweeted. “Due to an important family function I was very busy whole day, rather till late night. Had informed him in advance. He is my leader and he will be always the same for me. But why was nikamma absent?”

Earlier this month, Nirupam said he would not be able to continue in the party for long if his voice was not heard. He also alleged there was a conspiracy within the Congress to throw out people close to Rahul Gandhi. On October 3, he announced he would not participate in the party’s election campaign after the name of a candidate he suggested was rejected.

The 54-year-old Congress leader claimed there was a campaign against him. “In Mumbai, anti-party activities have increased...When a new general secretary was appointed, he ensured that there should be activities against me,” he added. “During Lok Sabha polls, I was stripped of the post of Mumbai Congress president. I did not say anything about this and accepted the decision as a loyal party worker.”

Former Union minister Milind Deora had replaced Nirupam as the Mumbai Congress chief in March amid reports of infighting. Nirupam was appointed the party’s candidate for the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency for the 2019 elections but lost. He stepped down from his post in July.

However, the Congress has played down the differences and asked its state unit leaders not to make up conspiracy theories. “It would be appropriate if he [Nirupam] does not kite fly these conspiracy theories that are unimaginative,” Manish Tewari said recently.

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