Maharashtra Congress Secretary Shehzad Poonawalla on Wednesday lashed out at the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi just days before his elevation as the party's president and said that Gandhi's election to the top position is "raigged" and a sham exercise.
Reports state that no one is expected to contest Gandhi to the party' chief's position, however, Poonawalla through his statements made it evident that he would have liked to run for the post. He said that Rahul Gandhi must resign from his current position first to lose the "unfair advantage" he has over other possible candidates.
Poonawalla also directly challenged Gandhi and said: "Will he be ready for a televised debate where we both as contestants can have a debate on what is our vision for the Congress party? We can be judged on merit, not on the surname."
Poonawalla, in his letter to the Congress vice-president, said, "We are not into some family business, are we?"
However, his comments were denounced by his brother Tehseen Poonawalla, who is also a Congress leader.
"It is totally unacceptable to me and my family...he should have presented whatever issues he had in the party forum...We now have nothing to do with him," Tehseen said on Thursday.
Congress is currently preparing Rahul Gandhi's nomination. Reports state that the party's delegates from all states are expected to file nomination papers proposing his name.
"I will contest if Rahul Gandhiji agrees to first have genuinely-elected delegates and not handpicked delegates. Second, he must give up his post because he has an unfair advantage by being the vice president. He has been selected and not elected as VP. He will leave his post, I will leave my post... Then we can contest...I want him to accept that our party must have a rule of one family-one ticket," Poonawalla told news agency IANS.
"...a common party worker like me joined the party in 2008-09. I spent time, energy and money working voluntarily for the party at all levels and finally got elevated after eight years to the position of a secretary in a state unit in 2016. But how and why (other than your surname) did you in the same time span start off with an MP seat in 2004 itself, get general secretaryship in 2007 and then graduate to vice presidentship of the national unit while your mother was the president?" Poonawala wrote in his letter to Rahul Gandhi.
"Did you win us more elections, were you genuinely elected to these posts, did you give better speeches than other leaders? You must therefore resign from the VP post and contest as an ordinary member for the election of the president. How can it be a fair contest if a common worker has to contest against the VP (who was selected and not elected as the VP or the number two in the party)?" he added.