Top Mumbai Cong leaders delay joining DKS in protest

Top Mumbai Cong leaders delay joining DKS in protest

Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar with Maharashtra Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam in Mumbai on Wednesday.

In what comes as a major embarrassment, senior Congress leaders were missing for nearly two to three hours.

Party troubleshooter D K Shivakumar held the fort for three hours alone outside the Renaissance Hotel at Powai, braving intermittent rains.

This clearly shows the infighting within the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC), traditionally one of the most powerful Congress units in the country.

Shivakumar landed at the Mumbai airport at around 8 am and was in the hotel - where 10 rebel MLAs are holed up - by 9 am. Soon, Mumbai Youth Congress leaders started arriving and countered the anti-Shivakumar slogans . It appeared that the absence of top leaders initially irked Shivakumar, who even remembered late chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

“I have hosted MLAs from Maharashtra (during political crisis) when my friemd Vilasrao Deshmukh was the chief minister. If I start calling them, they all will come. I do not want to create a scene here,” he said.

Moments later, there was a tweet from Milind Deora, who resigned as MRCC president, that he was reaching by 12.30 pm. By 11.30 pm, Sanjay Nirupam was there and post-noon Deora and Naseem Khan, deputy leader of Congress in Maharashtra Assembly, arrived. By 3 pm, Shivakumar, Deora and Khan were detained.

Senior Mumbai Congress leaders including Deora, Nirupam and Priya Dutt took to Twitter to express anguish over the developments.

Nirupam also tried to intervene when cops were taking away Shivakumar. “He is our guest,” he was heard telling cops. “Government machinery was misused,” added Deora.

Former chief minister Ashok Chavan, who has resigned as Maharashtra Congress president, tweeted: “This is dictatorship...democracy is being murdered.”

The resignation by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and AICC not finding a successor is adding to the problems of the state and city units. Two senior Congress leaders, who are often known to criticise their own party and its leaders, came to the defence of the leaders.

“Frankly speaking, there is confusion and chaos. The Congress workers are demoralised after the Lok Sabha results and the crisis within AICC,” they said. Another senior leader said that as per the schedule, they knew Shivakumar was to arrive at 11 am at airport and will be in hotel by 12 noon. “But he reached early. So, the local unit was caught unawares,” he added.

Later, when he came out after detention, Shivakumar said he would like to thank Deora, Nirupam, Khan, the Congress and NSUI units. “His (Milind’s) father Murli Deora was my friend,” he said.