Mumbai: City unit Congress president Sanjay Nirupam, under fire from party leaders over his “style of functioning”, today said he had a “limited role” in picking candidates for BMC polls and that his “intervention” was only five per cent in entire list of 227 nominees.
Nirupam said names of candidates given unanimously by the district units in the city have been cleared for the February 21 polls.
“I intervened only in 5 per cent names where I felt the district units failed to properly allocate the candidates and where sitting corporators did not figure in the list,” the Congress leader told PTI.
However, he steered clear of commenting on internal bickering in the city unit over allocation of tickets.
Responding to BJP city president Ashish Shelar’s allegations of “match-fixing” between Congress and Shiv Sena for 42 municipal wards, Nirupam termed them a “diversionary tactic” by the BJP.
“BJP is deliberately making such wild allegations to divert the electoral discourse. At this point, the discourse should be on the performance of the Sena-BJP combine in the civic body for the last 20 years and how they have failed to provide basic amenities,” he said.
Nirupam said he had the “files of District Congress committees (DCCs) mentioning which leader recommended which names. I am prepared to sit across table with Shelar in front of cameras to discuss it. Shelar should make charges with a concrete proof and if not he should apologise and withdraw his statement.”
He said snapping of ties between Sena and BJP was part of a “secret plan” so that the issue of their performance in the BMC gets diverted while they campaign against each other.
The Congress leader referred to the statements by BJP president Amit Shah that Mumbai civic polls will be a “friendly match between the two saffron allies” and party minister Chandrakant Patil that BJP and Sena will come together again after polls.
“The ground reality is that Sena and BJP are together in governments in Maharashtra and Delhi and they claim to be rivals in the civic polls. This (Sena contesting polls without alliance with BJP) is bogus and hypocritical. If the civic polls is not a friendly fight then why these two parties are in government together?” Nirupam asked.
Ahead of elections, Nirupam fell out with veteran Congress leader Gurudas Kamat who had accused him of “negative attitude” over selection of candidates and withdrew himself from campaigning.
Another senior leader Narayan Rane too distanced himself from campaigning for party in Mumbai, saying Nirupam is a capable leader.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s emissary Bhupinder Singh Hooda has been trying to placate the warring sections in the Mumbai unit.