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Congress worried as MLAs Naseem Khan, Kripashankar stay away from Dutt’s campaign

DUTTCongress is worried as a “rift” in its city unit has started affecting the election campaign, especially in Mumbai North Central which is considered as the “safest” seat for the party, where sitting MP Priya Dutt is seeking a fresh term.

Senior leaders Mohammed Arif Naseem Khan and Kripashankar Singh, legislators from Chandivali and Kalina respectively, are staying away from Dutt’s campaign as they felt ignored by the MP, sources said.

Chandivali and Kalina are among six Assembly segments that constitute the North Central constituency.

According to sources, the duo did not join Dutt when she filed her nominations papers on April 1. Both leaders were also conspicuous by their absence as Dutt has hit the campaign trail through padyatras and street corner meetings.

To add to the Congress’ discomfiture is the presence of Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate Farhan Azmi, son of state SP unit president Abu Asim Azmi.

When contacted, Congress city unit president Janardan Chandurkar said he had spoken to both the leaders and they have expressed their willingness to work for Dutt and to give her lead from their respective constituencies. “I don’t know what the problem is but I am resolving it at my level. I spoke to both the leaders and they told me that they have instructed their workers to join the campaign. I don’t think chief minister Prithviraj Chavan will need to intervene,” Chandurkar said.

According to sources, Khan and Singh had complained to the party leadership that they were not taken into confidence by Dutt about her campaign. Both the leaders were unavailable for comment.

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