MUMBAI: The Congress has appointed Eknath Gaikwad as Acting President of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee, following Milind Deora’s resignation. Deora, 42, confirmed his resignation as president of the party’s Mumbai unit earlier on Friday, conveying his “final” decision in a letter to Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Balasaheb Thorat. In his letter Deora said he had also informed Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in the 16th Lok Sabha, of his decision. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’In its statement, the party said it “appreciates the contribution” of Milind Deora, who has earlier hinted at the possibility of a more central role in the party’s leadership structure. Deora, who replaced Sanjay Nirupam as Mumbai Congress chief shortly before the 2019 Lok Sabha election, first announced his resignation in July, after the party suffered an embarrassing rout in the national election; the Congress won only 52 seats and was wiped out entirely in Mumbai. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KAt that time, the party’s Working Committee had yet to accept his resignation or choose a new leader. Friday’s resignation letter comes shortly before Assembly elections in Maharashtra, where beating the BJ0P-Shiv Sena alliance will be a difficult proposition for a Congress that won only 36 of 288 seats in the 2018 polls. By comparison, the BJP won 124 seats and the Shiv Sena 61. While announcing his resignation in July, Deora had highlighted the challenges facing the Congress in Maharashtra. He pointed out that the party needed to negate the impact of the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, which secured around 40 lakh votes in the general election, most of which came from Dalit and Muslim pockets. The Congress has apparently heeded his words, with the party considering a tie-up with the VBA. In July, Milind Deora resigned after a meeting with former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who had, by then, also declared he would resign, sparking a desperate search for a new party president that ended last month with former president Sonia Gandhi being handed temporary charge.”I had accepted MRCC president-ship in the interest of uniting the party. I felt I should also resign after meeting Rahul Gandhi,” Deora said at the time. “I have suggested a three-member panel (to oversee the city party unit) and am being consulted by leaders to identify names” he said. Deora said, adding, “Needless to say, I will continue to guide and unite the Mumbai Congress”. His decision invited criticism from Sanjay Nirupam, who questioned his motive. “A resignation comes with a feeling of sacrifice. But here a moment later, a ‘national-level’ position is being sought. Is this a resignation or a ladder to climb up? The party should be cautious with such ‘hard-working’ people,” he tweeted in Hindi.