Imphal | With its senior leader Milind Deora resigning just before the start of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, the Congress on Sunday alleged that the timing of the announcement of his departure from the party was determined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for headline management to counter the yatra, and asserted that it will have no impact.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh told PTI that one Milind Deora goes away but "lakhs of Milinds who believe in our organisation and ideology stay".
Ramesh said Deora had spoken with him over phone this Friday and requested that he wanted to speak with Rahul Gandhi over his concerns over the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) laying claim to the South Mumbai Lok Sabha 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 he sent a message, 'is speaking to you not possible?' I said I will call you and at 3:40, I spoke to him," Ramesh said.
"He (Deora) said he is concerned that it is a sitting Shiv Sena seat, he wanted to meet Rahul Gandhi and explain to him about the seat and also wanted me to talk to Mr. Gandhi about it," the Congress general secretary said.
"Obviously all this was a farce and he had made up his mind to leave. The timing of the announcement of his departure was clearly determined by the PM," Ramesh alleged.
Pointing out at the timing of the announcement by Deora, Ramesh alleged that it has been decided by the PM and Deora was "just a puppet".
"The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra is in all newspapers, TV, everywhere. So PM is a guru of headline management and has given a headline' 'Milind Deora leaves Congress' but this will have no impact," Ramesh told PTI.
"One Milind Deora goes away, lakhs of Milinds who believe in our organisation and ideology stay. Whether they get ticket or not it does nor matter, they get disappointed for a few hours and then again get back to working (for the party). PM has made Milind Deora's going a headline but this will have no impact on our organisation," he asserted.
On his exchange with Deora a couple of days ago, Ramesh also said that Deora was "playing a game" with him.
"He spoke with me two days ago. I used to speak with him, he was a good friend of mine once upon a time," the Congress general secretary said.
In a post on X, Ramesh recalled his long years of association with seven-time Congress MP Murli Deora with great fondness.
"He (Murli Deora) had close friends in all political parties, but was a stalwart Congressman who ALWAYS stood by the Congress party through thick and thin. Tathastu!" he said.
Former Union minister Deora on Sunday said he had resigned from the primary membership of the party.
In a post on social media platform X, the former South Mumbai Lok Sabha MP said, "Today marks the conclusion of a significant chapter in my political journey. I have tendered my resignation from the primary membership of the Congress, ending my family's 55 year relationship with the party. I am grateful to all leaders, colleagues and karyakartas for their unwavering support over the years."
Deora, who was recently appointed the joint treasurer of the All India Congress Committee, had expressed disapproval at the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) laying claim to the South Mumbai Lok Sabha seat.