News Brief

Internal Rift Erupts In Mumbai Congress Amid Calls For Varsha Gaikwad's Ouster

Bhuvan Krishna

Jun 27, 2024, 06:18 PM | Updated 06:18 PM IST

Congress Flags. (Representative Image)
Congress Flags. (Representative Image)

Following its strong performance in Maharashtra in the recent Lok Sabha elections, the Mumbai Congress is now experiencing internal strife.

A group of senior party leaders is calling for the removal of its chief, newly-elected Mumbai North Central MP Varsha Gaikwad.

A letter addressed to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge by a faction of leaders highlights the "need to strengthen the party organisation" ahead of the Assembly polls.

This move is perceived as an attempt to undermine Gaikwad, with one signatory accusing her leadership of causing an "organisational decline" within the Mumbai Congress.

“Many corporators have quit and the party is witnessing a downfall in organisational strength. These are important issues that the central leadership needs to be apprised about. Hence, we have sought time from the party president,” the leader stated.

Gaikwad, who recently defeated BJP’s Ujjwal Nikam in the Lok Sabha polls, claimed to be unaware of the letter.

“If anyone has issues with the party’s organisational strength in Mumbai, they must remember that I am one of the most vocal leaders and have not shied away from taking on big names. Instead of focusing on me, people must focus on contesting and winning the Assembly elections,”  she said.

In the recent Lok Sabha elections, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition, which includes Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) and Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (SP), secured 30 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.

The Congress, as part of the alliance, won 13 of the 17 seats it contested, indicating a positive trend for the party.

The Mumbai Congress has a long history of internal divisions, beginning with factionalism between groups led by the late Murli Deora and Gurudas Kamat.

Kripashankar Singh was the only leader who managed to maintain a balance. However, his successors have struggled with infighting.

Sanjay Nirupam, who succeeded Janardhan Chandurkar as Mumbai Congress chief and later joined Shiv Sena, faced criticism for "favoring" Biharis.

His successor Milind Deora, now a Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP, resigned abruptly within six months of taking over.

Subsequent leaders Ekanth Gaikwad and Bhai Jagtap also faced internal complaints.

Varsha Gaikwad became Mumbai Congress chief in June 2023, the first woman to hold the position.

The daughter of Eknath Gaikwad, a prominent Dalit Congress leader, she previously served as Dharavi MLA and is a vocal critic of the Dharavi Redevelopment Project by the Adani Group.

Since assuming her role, Gaikwad has faced criticism from senior party leaders, former ministers, MLAs, and MPs.

A senior Congress leader from Delhi noted that those complaining against Gaikwad are senior members, while younger party members have not voiced such grievances.

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Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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