Union minister Milind Deora, who is taking on Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant in the South Mumbai constituency in the coming Lok Sabha elections, has been appointed the chief of Mumbai Congress. He replaces Sanjay Nirupam, who has been offered ticket for a seat he wanted to contest from.
The move is seen as an attempt by the party’s central leadership to quell the increasing factionalism in the Mumbai unit. Over the last months, many of the leaders have been critical of Mr Nirupam’s leadership. Milind Deora had been one of the critics.
Last year, a group of local leaders had formally sought the removal of Sanjay Nirupam. Milind Deora was the popular choice for the post, which his father, Murli Deora, held for 22 years — from 1981 to 2003.
Mr Deora, 42, is a close aide of Congress President Rahul Gandhi and has been tasked with reviving the party in the city, where the BJP and Shiv Sena are firmly entrenched with the urban centric policies, popular city leaders and fixed votebanks.
After the Congress was washed out in the city in the 2014 elections, Sanjay Nirupam was similarly tasked. But insiders say he made little headway in face of the opposition from the party leaders in the city.
“I thank former party president Sonia-ji and 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 Mumbaikars,” the new Mumbai Congress chief said.
Sanjay Nirupam would contest the Lok Sabha elections from the Mumbai Northwest seat in the city. He had been lobbying hard to shift from the Mumbai North seat, which he lost by a margin of nearly 4.5 lakh votes to Gopal Shetty in 2014. In the Mumbai Northeast seat, he takes on Shiv Sena’s Gajanan Kirtikar and has a better shot at winning.
Milind Deora became a parliamentarian at the age of 27 years, defeating the BJP’s Jaywantiben Mehta by a margin of 10,000 votes. He was one of the youngest members of the 15th Lok Sabha.
He is married to Pooja Shetty and the couple lives in Mumbai. She heads the film production company “Walk Water Media” and is the daughter of well-known film producer Manmohan Shetty. Mr Deora plays the bass guitar and has often been spotted playing the instrument.
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