Rahul Gandhi’s foreign visits show Modi not NRIs’ only favourite leader: Milind Deora

milind deora on Rahul Gandhi

Mumbai: Former Congress MP Milind Deora said his tweets earlier this month flagging sectarian politics and infighting in the party’s Mumbai unit were a ‘spontaneous’ reaction, and the issues were just differences of opinion that the party leadership would sort out.

Deora’s tweets had given rise to speculation that the he may not be willing to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking to ThePrint, the two-time Member of Parliament (MP) said he is keen to represent the people of his constituency, and while the local Congress leadership has unanimously suggested his candidature for the Mumbai South constituency, the party will take a final call.

“I don’t first see it as infighting. There are differences of opinion and those exist in every party or organisation. It is for us to sort them out internally. I am confident that our leadership will sort it out,” Deora told ThePrint.

Deora said his family has had a 50-year-old relationship with Mumbai and he has been meeting people, lending them a voice and taking up issues though he is no longer an MP.

“People still think I am MP of South Mumbai. That relationship will never go away,” said Deora. “It is finally for the party to take a decision. The party at a local level has certainly suggested my name unanimously for South Mumbai. The reaction I voiced a week ago was a sort of spontaneous reaction. But whatever is happening within the party is something that we wish to keep within the party domain internally.”

He added that in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Mumbai voters cast their vote for Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the cost of good candidates, while the actual performance of the six Mumbai MPs from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena has been disappointing.

“I personally feel a lot of Mumbaikars are disappointed with their MPs. Many don’t even know who is representing them in Parliament, so I am certain that if Congress puts good candidates we will be able to take advantage of this anti-incumbency. We have to obviously put up a united face in Mumbai, which I am confident we will do in the next few weeks,” Deora said.

‘Allies want to see Rahul Gandhi as PM’

Deora, who along with Indian Overseas Congress chief Sam Pitroda organised several foreign visits for Congress president Rahul Gandhi over the past two years, said that tours conveyed the message that international leaders recognise the Congress as an important political power.

He added that for the past several decades, the Congress — unlike Prime Minister Narendra Modi — had failed to meaningfully engage with the Indian diaspora, which has an electoral impact and helps in nation-building in a big way.

“During these visits, international heads of state and political leaders were receiving Rahul Gandhi. When we went to Singapore, the PM’s office told me they are very keen to meet him. Recently in UAE, I arranged for the ruler of Dubai also to receive Rahul Gandhi,” he said.

“That also sends a very different message back home. It sends a message that international leaders understand that Congress is an important political power and an important driver of where India is going and they want to stay engaged with us,” added Deora, also a former Union Minister of State.

He believes this debunks the perception that PM Modi had created that there is no other Indian leader who gets a rousing welcome like him on international visits.

Deora, who is known to be close to Gandhi, also said that while the party is focusing on building an opposition coalition and the Congress president himself has not made any statement on its leadership, several allies have ‘unequivocally and categorically’ said that he should be the prime ministerial candidate.



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