Congress leader Milind Deora on Thursday evening tweeted in praise of ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan, who is set to join the BJP just months ahead of Assembly elections in Kerala, describing him as “a thorough professional” and “an accomplished engineer-bureaucrat”.
“One needn’t be a BJP supporter to welcome E Sreedharan’s entry into active politics. A thorough professional and one of the county’s most accomplished engineer-bureaucrats, E Sreedharan belongs to all of India. Our politics needs more like him,” Mr Deora said.
One needn’t be a BJP supporter to welcome E Sreedharan’s entry into active politics.
A thorough professional & one of the county’s most accomplished engineer-bureaucrats, E Sreedharan belongs to all of India.
Our politics needs more like him.
— Milind Deora | मिलिंद देवरा ☮️ (@milinddeora) February 18, 2021
The tweet is likely to raise (once again) eyebrows within the Congress, which had admonished the former chief of its Mumbai unit last year – for tweets praising Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
In February 2020 – after the Congress suffered a rout at the hands of the AAP in Delhi elections – Mr Deora congratulated Mr Kejriwal for running a campaign focused on development.
He also complimented him for running “one of India’s most fiscally prudent governments”.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala issued a sharp rebuke, directing Mr Deora “to reflect about (his) own role… performance… in (his) state and constituency”.
Delhi leader Ajay Maken also reacted, bitterly, tweeting: “Brother, you want to leave INC India-Please do-Then propagate half baked facts!”
To him Mr Deora responded: “Brother, I would never undermine Sheila Dikshit’s stellar performance as Delhi CM. That’s your specialty. But it’s never too late to change! Instead of advocating an alliance with AAP, if only you had highlighted Sheilaji‘s achievements, Congress would have been in power today.”
The tweets praising the AAP triggered speculation Mr Deora, 43, who is widely seen as one of the party’s more suave leaders, was on his way to join that party.
He has sounded several discordant notes over the past two years, including a polite exchange with Prime Minister Narendra Modi – over his “Howdy, Modi!” event – in September 2019.
The relationship between party and leader also took a hit after Mr Deora resigned as Mumbai Congress chief (days before his Twitter interaction with the Prime Minister) following a dismal show in the Lok Sabha election; this was just months after replacing rival Sanjay Nirupam.
Meanwhile, 88-year-old E Sreedharan is expected to join the BJP during its Vijay Yatra, which begins Sunday. “I believe in the party. This is the reason why I have joined…” he said.
There are, however, questions about his role given the party has a cut-off of 75 years for electoral candidates, applied previously to veterans like LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.
Nevertheless, Mr Sreedharan has said he is open to contesting elections if the party wants.