New Delhi: Former Union minister and ex-MP from Mumbai South Milind Deora’s resignation from the Congress on Sunday is the latest addition to a list of young leaders who have left it to begin new innings in other parties, predominantly the BJP.
The resignation also signals a continuing saga of unaddressed concerns of young leaders, once considered close to former Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
The latest exit also highlights the disconnect and inaccessibility of the Gandhi family with the lower rung of party leadership, amid dwindling fortunes of the grand old party, which the young leaders are unable to accept.
Sources close to Deora said he left the party after “a very long and futile wait”.
The ex-Lok Sabha MP could not manage an assurance from his own party that he would get to contest from Mumbai South in the upcoming general election, a seat represented by his family for decades, the sources said.
“The Shiv Sena UBT has been openly laying claim to Mumbai South and the Congress was unable to give an assurance of safety for Milind Deora’s seat. A young leader’s political future was thrown into uncertainty and there was no redressal,” Deora’s aides said as he ended a 55-year-old bond with the Congress in which his late father Murali Deora was a formidable figure and a petroleum minister in the UPA regime.
Concerns cited by the Deora camp have been listed by leaders who had exited the party before.
Lack of redressal of festering issues and intra party factionalism earlier led several promising leaders of the erstwhile Rahul Gandhi camp to leave.
The list is long with former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot standing out as the sole exception.
Pilot stayed back in the Congress despite non fulfilment of promises made to him by the top brass when he called off his revolt in 2020 and returned to the Congress, saying he had buried the hatchet with his bete noire Ashok Gehlot, then CM.
Union Minister under the Congress led UPA regime Jyotiraditya Scindia was not so patient with factionalism in Madhya Pradesh unit when he resigned from the Congress to join the BJP in March 2020.
Scindia said he could no longer take the disrespect coming from veteran Kamal Nath.
In June 2021 another ex-UPA minister Jitin Prasada quit the Congress citing the party’s growing disconnect with the people.
A series of exodus happened thereafter with Priyanka Chaturvedi joining erstwhile undivided Shiv Sena, former Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev quitting for TMC while former union minister RPN Singh, former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and party spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill joined the BJP.
The exits that began with then Assam Congress stalwart Himanta Biswa Sarma leaving the party for the BJP on the eve of 2014 Lok Sabha polls never really stopped and high profile resignations continued with even ex-Punjab CM Amarinder Singh also going to the BJP citing personal insults by the party ahead of Punjab polls in 2022.
“It is impossible to get an audience with Rahul Gandhi, there is a clear disconnect and one feels suffocated,” a Deora aide said explaining his decision.
Similar views were earlier aired by most leaders, including Sarma, at the time of their exit.
Rahul Gandhi personally has long held a view that those who wish to quit are free to do so.
The Congress leadership has so far chosen to explain the exits as resignations of leaders who don’t have the capacity to take on the BJP in an ideological fight.
“Once the tide turns in our favour all these leaders will return. For them it’s individual above the party,” he said.
The Congress also questioned the timing of Deora’s resignation, which came hours before Rahul Gandhi embarked on his ambitious Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra from Manipur to Mumbai on Sunday.
The BJP was quick to attack the Congress with IT cell head Amit Malviya saying, “The Congress should first give justice to its leaders rather than launch a Nyay Yatra.”
Shergill said, “First, Assam’s general secretary (Apurba Bhattacharjee) resigned (from Congress), and now Milind Deora has too. The Congress ‘todo yatra’ has begun.”
“Rahul Gandhi has to answer regarding the injustice he has done to the party and its leaders,” the BJP leader said.