Mumbai: Urmila Matondkar had left the glitz and glamour of Bollywood to take a head-on dive into the sweat and toil of elections earlier in 2019. Her debut in politics and performance in the Lok Sabha election, however, was a big flop as the Congress candidate went down to Gopal Shetty, the sitting BJP MP from Mumbai North seat, by over 4.5 lakh votes. In a letter to former Congress chief of Mumbai unit Milind Deora dated May 16, she had listed out a number of allegations against her campaign coordinators and other key party functionaries.
The letter from the actress-turned-politician was sent even before the seventh phase of Lok Sabha election had concluded, although Mumbai had already voted on April 29. In it, Urmila thanked Deora and Rahul Gandhi for having put their faith in her before launching a tirade against several party functionaries. The crux of the allegations was directed against Sandesh Kondwilkar, the chief campaign organiser, and party functionary Bhushan Patil. "Mr Sandesh Kondwilkar intentionally failed and neglected to mobilise the party workers at the grass root level. Other key functionaries such as Bhushan Patil failed to hold key meetings between key functionaries of the party at block level and ward level which resulted in complete lack of communication. As a result there was total lack of confidence and energy in the party," she wrote while also accusing Kondwilkar and Patil of lacking political maturity, discipline and creating controversies.
Interestingly, both Kondwilkar and Patil are believed to be close to senior Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam who had had a tussle of sorts with Deora in the past for prominence within the party.
Urmila, however, also highlighted an apparent lack of resources for her campaign. She alleged that campaign rallies were never held on time or in right places, schedules were poorly devised and arranged, and said that Kondwilkar and Patil kept blaming a money crunch for all problems. "Mr Sandesh Kondwilkar and Mr Bhushan Patil had been constantly complaining about the lack of financial resources which resulted in waste of my time and energy to the detriment of the campaigning process. It also created a vitiated atmosphere in the camp and a feeling of distrust," she wrote, adding that she and her family members were often asked to raise funds. "Mr Sandesh Kondwilkar in fact went to the extent of calling my family members at odd hours forcing them to raise funds claiming he had no funds left to run the campaign. Shockingly, in last week of April, Mr Sandesh Kondwilkar called my family member at night time and asked him to call Mr Ahmed Patel sir to raise funds for the campaign failing which the campaign would be stopped."
The letter also makes a number of other revelations about how Kondwilkar never accepted feedbacks and suggestions, often using inappropriate language to deal with these. Urmila then demanded strong disciplinary action against Kondwilkar and Patil, as well as changes at the organisational level.