Maha polls: Maximum City gives minimum seats to Cong

IMAGE: Congress supporters celebrate in Maharashtra‘s Karad on Thursday. Photograph: PTI Photo

Riven by infighting ahead of the Maharashtra assembly polls, the Congress on Thursday managed to win just four assembly seats out of the 29 seats it contested in Mumbai, faring poorly than in 2014.

Congress candidates Aslam Sheikh, Varsha Gaikwad and Amin Patel retained their Malad West, Dharavi and Mumbadevi constituencies, respectively, while party nominee Zeeshan Siddique wrested the Bandra East seat from the Shiv Sena.

Naseem Khan, a former minister and Mumbai Congress heavyweight, lost his Chandivali seat by a slender margin of 409 votes.

In 2014, the Congress had won five seats in Mumbai, which has 36 assembly segments.

 

One of its sitting MLAs, Kalidas Kolambkar, who had won from Wadala, switched sides months ahead of the October 21 elections and successfully contested from the seat in Mumbai South Central as the Bharatiya Janata Party nominee.

Ahead of elections, the Mumbai Congress saw dissension in its ranks and war of words between its leaders.

Former Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, miffed after being overlooked in ticket distribution, stayed away from campaigning and openly attacked the party leadership, earning a rebuke from the central brass.

As the results started pouring in on Thursday, Nirupam once again targetted the party‘s Mumbai leadership and All India Congress Committee general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge.

“Accountability needs to be fixed in the party. Who finalised the candidates for the seats in Mumbai and what efforts were taken to get them elected?” he asked.

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“The need of the hour is organisational reforms and party leaders need to get over their arrogance and respect leaders who work on the ground,” the former MP said.

He lamented that no effort was made to reach out to him after he raised issues regarding the party‘s functioning in the financial capital, where the Congress was once a force to reckon with.

Meanwhile, sources said if the Congress high command had backed Milind Deora in 2017 when almost every leader was demanding Nirupams ouster as city unit chief, the party would have done better in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and also assembly elections.

The Congress drew a blank in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Mumbai, which has half a dozen seats.

Nirupam continued his tirade against Deora as well as the top Congress leadership, hurting the party in the city, the sources said.

Deora had resigned as the Mumbai Congress chief after the party‘s debacle in Lok Sabha elections.

The partys inability to rein in Nirupam and reprimand him for his public outbursts gave an impression that some in the Congress were backing Nirupam, the sources said.

“The party now has to decide whether it will hold Nirupam and Ashok Tanwar (a dissident Haryana Congress leader) accountable for their indiscipline.

“The Hooda experiment (in Haryana) has proven that tried and tested leaders need to be empowered and not sidelined if the Congress wants results,” they said.

“Deora maintained dignity during personal attacks from Nirupam as he did not want to damage the party‘s prospects during elections,” the sources said.

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