NEW DELHI: Accusing the BJP of plotting the exit of former Union minister Milind Deora from Congress, All India Congress Committee general secretary Jairam Ramesh on Sunday alleged that the timing of the announcement was determined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Deora’s announcement of joining the ruling Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde faction) in Maharashtra came on a day when Rahul Gandhi set off on Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra from Manipur to rejuvenate the party ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Deora was once considered a close aide of Rahul Gandhi. He was upset that Congress had surrendered the Mumbai South Lok Sabha seat to its ally Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray faction), which was represented by him from 2004 to 2014. The undivided Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant, now with the Thackeray faction, had defeated Deora from the constituency in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Speaking to media, Jairam Ramesh said that Deora had telephoned him on Friday and requested that he wanted to speak with Rahul Gandhi about his concerns on the South Mumbai seat. Both Milind Deora and his father Murli Deora had served as MPs from Mumbai South.
“He messaged me on Friday at 8.52 am and then at 2.47 pm. I replied, ‘Are you planning a switch?’ At 2.48 pm, he sent a message, ‘Is speaking to you not possible?’ I said I would call you and at 3.40 pm, I spoke to him,” Ramesh said.
“Deora said he is concerned that it is a Shiv Sena seat. He wanted to meet Rahul Gandhi and explain to him about the seat and also wanted me to talk to Gandhi about it,” Ramesh said, adding, “All this was a farce, he had already made up his mind to leave. The Prime Minister determined the timing of the announcement of his departure.”
Echoing the view, Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole said that it was orchestrated by the BJP to divert attention from the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and mocked Deora as a “twice defeated candidate”. “
"The BJP was spreading rumors that the Congress will split. Now the BJP and its allies are taking along with them a ‘twice defeated candidate’ to divert attention from the Yatra. This attempt will not be successful,” Patole said.