t came as a shock that Gurudas Kamat, the former Union minister, and senior Congress leader, died at a private hospital in Delhi after suffering a heart attack on Wednesday morning. Kamat was just 63. He complained of breathlessness and was rushed to the hospital by his driver but he died on the way. Kamat was a former Mumbai Congress president for two terms, he had a deep knowledge of the city politics and his absence could prove detrimental for the party, which is hoping to capture the next year’s critical elections. Starting his political career as a student leader, he rose on to become the president of National Students’ Union of India, the Maharashtra Pradesh Youth Congress, the Indian Youth Congress, as well as the vice president of the party’s Maharashtra unit, besides serving in the Union cabinet. He was the one leader who gave a very tough time to Congress due to his own demands.
He used to abruptly resign and resume, and this had happened several times in the Maharashtra politics. His resignation was more of an expression of unhappiness over him being sidelined in Mumbai by Sanjay Nirupam. Gurudas Kamat stretched his muscles to ensure that his followers get their share of tickets in those days’ Mumbai municipal corporation elections. Kamat had never intended to join any other political party or form his own outfit, unlike many other former colleagues. He was a loyal Congressi and very popular amongst his constituency. Lately, he became very active on the social media.
After 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress got demoralised and some leaders felt the heat; he was the one leader who believed that Congress would return to power sooner or the later. Those days, Kamat felt ignored by Sonia Gandhi, but when she met him, his ego got satisfied and things fell into place. This could be really laughable as he was the senior most Congress leader and he behaved like an attention-seeker child. Whenever he wanted to grab the attention of the Gandhis, he used to announce his resignation to media, the news used to hit the headlines, and Kamat again used to remain in the party.
When Kamat resigned from the party and announced his retirement from the politics, everyone predicted that his resignation would be a major blow to the Congress ahead of the Mumbai civic polls. He resigned, the media aggressively gave news space to his submission, and then some Congress leader mediated and following which, he came back. His ego was a setback for him. Kamat was also known for lobbying and spoiling the career of other Congress leaders. Once upon a time, he and Vilasrao Deshmukh were a team and they hired some local journalists to sabotage Kripashankar Singh and Sanjay Nirupam. There are many leaders of the state who were victimised by Kamat. Kamat held big lobby of the RTI activists to journalists and used them against the fellow party leaders. This is one reason why Congress got dented in the state.
Though one cannot deny that Kamat commanded a sizeable clout among the party corporators and youth workers, but everyone was aware that he didn’t have a life beyond the Congress party. However, after his demise, a younger team is now going to lead the Congress. Kamat’s downfall was his self-esteem. He was known as a Gandhi family loyalist but actually, he was an opportunist and he always lived with his own cravings. He was the one state leader who has differences with many in the party, no one actually wanted to react or say anything on his quitting politics, and rather everyone silently wished for his exit. Kamat’s discontent was visible during the two visits of Rahul Gandhi to Mumbai in the past years. As an act of protest, Kamat skipped Gandhi’s ‘padyatra’ between Bandra and Dharavi over rising electricity bills and then the rally in support of jewellers. Significantly, Kamat was known for sending his resignation to the party leadership whenever he was unhappy with their certain decisions. Earlier too he had quit as the Youth Congress president and as the Minister in the United Progressive Alliance government when he was not promoted as a Cabinet Minister.
Kamat always had problems with those heading the city unit of the party — whether it was late Murli Deora or Kripashankar Singh. Recently, Rahul Gandhi’s increasing affinity to Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam was hurting Kamat the most. In the recent past, he literally started sulking. Finally, in 2017, he had resigned from all the positions that he held at the Congress; however, he was highly regarded by everyone at the party. An advocate by profession, Gurudas Kamat was a Member of the Parliament for the Mumbai North West constituency of Maharashtra in 2009 and Mumbai North East constituency of Maharashtra in 1984, 1991, 1998 and 2004. He served as the Minister of State for Home Affairs with the additional charge of Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India, during 2009 to 2011. In July 2011, he resigned as the Minister. In 2013, he was appointed the General Secretary All India Congress Committee and was also appointed as a member of the Congress Working Committee.
Now, that he has taken a permanent exit from the earth, his passing away was also equally surprising and unpredicted. May his soul rest in peace!
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