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Fresh speculation on next Mumbai Congress chief
Published on 15 May. 2011 11:05 PM IST
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With the excitement of the recent state elections subsiding, speculation has again begun on the successor of controversial Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh, party sources said Sunday.
Late in April, the Congress high command announced that Maharashtra unit president Manikrao Thakre will continue, but there was no word on Singh’s fate.
The Congress in-charge of Maharashtra, Mohan Prakash, said last fortnight that the party has yet to take a decision on the city Congress chief, but indicated it would be done soon. Singh is currently battling corruption charges and losing in popularity within the party, which is clamouring for change, especially since the crucial Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections are due after eight months in early 2012.
According to well-placed party sources, there is still no consensus on any of the probables, including MP Milind Deora, son of union Corporate Affairs Minister Murli Deora.
Incidentally, the senior Deora was president of Mumbai Congress for a record 22 years. However, Milind Deora (elected from Mumbai South) will face stiff competition from fellow youthful MPs like Sanjay Nirupam (Mumbai North), Priya Dutt (Mumbai North Central) and Eknath Gaekwad (Mumbai South-Central).
But it remains to be seen whether the party will pass the baton to a sitting MP or opt for somebody else, an office-bearer said here Sunday, preferring anonymity.
Among the factors likely to influence the decision will be the ability to attract the significant north Indian population of Mumbai and bag the country’s richest civic body from the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ruling the BMC for the past over two decades, he said.
Another recent development - the allying of the Republican Party of India (RPI) with the Shiv Sena-BJP combine - could weigh heavily, given the significant Dalit vote-bank in the city.
Gaekwad and Chandrakant Handore, another probable, could fit the bill as both are Dalits.
The other major names doing the rounds include former mayor Nirmala Samant-Prabhavalkar, city leader Rajhans Singh and trade union leader Bhai Jagtap.
For the past nearly one year, Kripashankar Singh has been fighting allegations of corruption, including links to the Madhu Koda and 2G spectrum scams, though his supporters dismiss this as the handiwork of political rivals within the party.

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