Court order may impact leadership struggle in Mumbai Congress unit

By Times Of India on 15 Feb 2018 | read
MUMBAI: For the 66-year-old Kripashankar Singh, a former Mumbai Congress unit chief, Wednesday’s order discharging him from a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act is a reprieve from the law as well as a step towards political rehabilitation.
Just as state Congress president Ashok Chavan has been spared a trial in the Adarsh scam, Singh too has escaped prosecution for allegedly amassing wealth disproportionate to disclosed sources of income. “Indeed it’s a huge relief for me. A criminal case was initiated against me on the basis of baseless information. Finally I have been discharged, (it’s) a happy moment in my political career. Justice has been done,’’ Singh told TOI.

Singh came into the spotlight in the early 1990’s as a champion of the migrant, north Indian community in Mumbai. First elected to the legislative council in 1994, he never looked back from then on.

Regarded as a trusted aide of the Gandhi family, he was appointed minister of state for home in 1999 and then president of the Mumbai Congress in 2008, a post he held till 2012.

The case against Singh originated with a PIL by an RTI activist who accused him of possessing disproportionate assets. Bombay high court then directed a criminal complaint be filed against him, prompting Singh to file a special leave petition before the Supreme Court, which called for a report from the Mumbai police commissioner.

During the probe, Singh was found to be in possession of assets 11% more than his known sources of income. The case was referred to then speaker Dilip Walse Patil to seek permission to prosecute Singh. Singh obtained the opinion given by Walse Patil under RTI and submitted it to the court.

On the basis of documents submitted by Singh, the sessions court on Wednesday discharged him. The order comes amid growing factionalism in the Mumbai Congress which is currently led by Sanjay Nirupam. Nirupam and his immediate predecessor Gurudas Kamat are believed to be at loggerheads, and now following Singh’s discharge, the leadership issue may open up again.