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Mumbai Congress worried after 2 top leaders quit party — ‘unhappy with high command’

Mumbai: Less than three months before the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress in Mumbai is in trouble with two senior leaders having left the party to join Maharashtra’s ruling coalition. Former Maharashtra minister and MLA Baba Siddique Thursday resigned from the Congress saying he had “certain compulsions that can’t be revealed”. He will join the Ajit Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Saturday, he said. Last month, former MP and Union Minister Milind Deora left the Congress to join the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena. The Maharashtra government is ruled by an alliance of the BJP, Shinde Sena and the NCP’s Ajit Pawar faction, which was a late entrant to the coalition last year. Congress sources told ThePrint that they feared more leaders, especially those who have been close to Deora and Siddique, may follow over the next few days. Mumbai Congress President Varsha Gaikwad, who took over the reins of the party’s city unit in June last year, told ThePrint that she could not be blamed for the defections, and that she was making every attempt to ensure the rest of the flock stayed together. “This is not about me… They are not leaving because of me,” she said. Gaikwad said that whoever wanted to go, had their own reasons, adding she was constantly in touch with the rest of the MLAs, who had “assured” her they would not leave. “Only the central leadership can fulfil that,” she added. The leader added she would visit Mumbai constituencies from next week, hold programmes and rallies. “The leaders are going but the ground workers are still with us,” she said. Also read: ‘Could have done better had we changed incumbent MLAs’ — Sachin Pilot on Congress’s Rajasthan drubbing ‘Siddique was demotivated with leadership’ Siddique, whose resignation came after a major 48-year stint in the party, had joined the Congress as a teenager. In a post on X, he wrote: “I joined the Indian National Congress party as a young teenager and it has been a significant journey lasting 48 years. Today I resign from the primary membership of the Indian National Congress Party with immediate effect.” His son Zeeshan is a Congress MLA. Speaking to reporters Thursday, Siddique said he had certain compulsions which he could not reveal, adding he would shoulder whatever responsibility his new party gave him. “I will work as effectively and loyally as I worked here (Congress),” he told reporters. A close associate of Siddique told ThePrint that he was “feeling demotivated with the state and central leadership”. “Despite spending years in the party, he wasn’t getting the chance to work the way he wanted to. He was also unhappy with the way the Shiv Sena UBT leaders were treating the Congress in the state,” the associate told ThePrint. He said Zeeshan, MLA from the Bandra East constituency, would follow in his father’s footsteps closer to the Maharashtra Assembly elections later this year. “It is just a matter of time before he quits,” another senior Congress leader told ThePrint. ThePrint reached Zeeshan Siddique via calls. This report will be updated if and when a response is received. Congress leaders are now apprehensive that more might abandon the party, embarrassing the top leadership since Rahul Gandhi’s ongoing “Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra” is slated to end in Mumbai on 20 March. (Edited by Tikli Basu) Also read: With loss in 3 states, a generation of Congress leaders faces uncertainty. Clamour for new guard grows

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