A section of local Congress leaders who owed allegiance to the late Gurudas Kamat have decided to stake claim to the post of the president of the party's Mumbai unit, sources said. Currently former MP Eknath Gaikwad is interim chief of the city Congress. The leaders, who were known to be Kamat loyalists, met recently to decide their course of action, sources said.
Bhai Jagtap and Charan Singh Sapra are among the contenders as Gaikwad's possible replacement, but the Kamat group is pushing for Amarjit Singh Manhas, they added. Gaikwad was given interim charge after Milind Deora resigned from the post after the Congress's debacle in the city in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The party could not win a single seat in the city.
Zakir Ahmed, vice president of Mumbai Congress, told PTI that a delegation of city unit leaders met Congress general secretary in charge of Maharashtra, Mallikarjun Kharge, earlier this week and discussed "steps to strengthen the Congress in Mumbai". The delegation was headed by Manhas. Civic polls would be held in Mumbai in 2022.
At present the Shiv Sena controls the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the country's richest civic body. Another city unit office-bearer claimed that there was no demand to replace Gaikwad.
"He has interim charge. The high command will decide if he should be continued or replaced as his daughter Varsha is a four-term MLA, and now a cabinet minister in Shiv Sena- led state government," the leader said.
Another local Congress leader said that the city unit of the party has always been dominated by one or other family: Sunil Dutt and later his daughter Priya Dutt, Murli Deora and his son Milind Deora and and now Gaikwad and his daughter.
"Gurudas Kamat is no more. His family members are not in politics, but his supporters who have risen through the ranks from NSUI (Congress's student wing) and Youth Congress should be given their due," the leader said.
Another leader from the `Kamat faction' said they had met Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat and former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan and a delegation would meet the high command in Delhi soon.