Congress leader Milind Deora today went public with criticism of his party saying he was "disappointed" and hinted at infighting "threatening our base in Mumbai". His tweets have unlidded friction within the Congress in Maharashtra, with Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam in the crosshairs of several leaders.
"I'm disappointed with what is happening - and the party is aware of my stance on fighting the Lok Sabha elections. However, I have full faith in our central leadership and its commitment to our party's ideology and principles. Especially in Mumbai, where the Congress was born," Milind Deora, 42, tweeted.
In a city like Mumbai, which is our economic and cultural capital, we need to bring people together. The Mumbai Congress cannot become a cricket pitch for sectarian politics, with leaders pitted against one other.— Milind Deora (@milinddeora) February 5, 2019
I'm disappointed with what is happening - and the party is aware of my stance on fighting the Lok Sabha elections. However, I have full faith in our central leadership and its commitment to our party's ideology and principles. Especially in Mumbai, where the Congress was born.— Milind Deora (@milinddeora) February 5, 2019
@INCIndia is leading a powerful, united campaign across India. Infighting cannot, and should not, be allowed to threaten our base in Mumbai. I appeal to all Congress leaders in Mumbai to unite as a team. We owe this much to our party and to Congress President @RahulGandhi.— Milind Deora (@milinddeora) February 5, 2019
As his tweets set off buzz that the party is in trouble in Mumbai, Milind Deora put out a clarification that wasn't really: "I would like to request Sanjay (Nirupam) Ji and other leaders, that we all must put aside political differences and work in unison. I would say that in any organisation there will be differences of opinion; there is no infighting."
But the former Congress MP left the field wide open for speculation about whether he will contest the national election, due by May. Weeks ago, another Congress leader, Priya Dutt, said she would not contest the election this time. She did not give any reason but that she had struggled to keep a balance between her personal and political life.
Both Milind Deora and Priya Dutt have long been at odds with Sanjay Nirupam, a former Shiv Sena leader who joined the Congress in 2005 and is perceived by many in the party as an "outsider".
Sanjay Nirupam contested and won the 2009 election. In 2014, both he and Milind Deora lost their seats. Yet, the very next year Sanjay Nirupam was appointed Mumbai Congress chief, which caused much resentment in the ranks.
Sanjay Nirupam's critics are also believed to have urged party president Rahul Gandhi to replace him because of what they see as his dictatorial and arrogant style of functioning. A section supports Milind Deora, whose father Murli Deora led the Mumbai Congress for over a decade.
But Milind Deora had famously criticised Rahul Gandhi's advisers openly after the Congress was decimated in 2014 and reduced to 44 seats in parliament. He had implied that not just advisers, but people who took the advice must also own up to the defeat.