New Delhi, Dec 4: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's elevation as the party president seems to be a jinxed one.
It has been a while since we have been hearing about Rahul taking over as the Congress chief. After much dilly-dallying on his part, now when Rahul is ready to formally take all the responsibility of the Congress as its head, his elevation to the party's top post has been mired by controversy after Maharashtra Congress secretary Shehzad Poonawalla openly attacked the Congress VP.
According to reports, Rahul will file his nomination papers for the election to the Congress president's post on Monday, accompanied by a host of senior leaders including Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Continuing his attack against the Gandhi scion, on Sunday, Poonawalla called Rahul "shehzada". The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and critics of Rahul often call him "shehzada" (Prince), to highlight the fact that the Congress VP is enjoying position and power, not because of his talent or leadership quality, but as he belongs to the Gandhi family.
The critics of the Congress and the Gandhi family accuse them of practicing "dynastic politics" by promoting members of the Gandhi family.
Talking to reporters in the national capital, Poonawalla said that the Congress had "no place for Shehzad (himself), but for shehzada (Rahul Gandhi)."
"I have been trying to raise the most important issue of dynastic politics and fair opportunity to the non-dynasts within the party for the past six to eight years. I also wrote to Rahul ji on this.
"Instead of answering my claims about delegates being fixed and one family one ticket rule--they are making baseless allegations against me that I am a BJP agent. I have to become a whistle-blower. I am not spineless like the other Congress leaders," the 30-year-old was quoted as saying by ANI.
"Main Shehzad hoon, shehzada nahin (I am Shehzad Poonawalla, not a prince like Rahul Gandhi). They don't have a place for me," he added.
In fact, Poonawalla also wanted to contest the election for the Congress president's post but was not given a chance to do so allegedly by his party. Poonawalla had alleged that the party president's election is rigged to favour Rahul.
The rebel leader also accused the Congress of lying about stating that Poonawalla was not a party leader.
Poonawalla said, "If I was not a member of the Congress Party, why does my name appear in a letter signed by Ashok Chavan in April 2016 appointing me as Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee secretary?" He showed the letter to the media as the proof.
In the same press briefing, Poonawalla thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for praising him for his "bravery".
"The person whom I criticised (PM Modi) is supporting me, while the party (Congress) for which I gave my life is criticising me and saying that I am not a member of it."
During a rally in Gujarat on Sunday, Modi praised Poonawalla for exposing the Congress for its lies.
"A youngster Shehzad has exposed the rigging that is taking place in the Congress president poll. And Shehzad is a senior Congress leader in Maharashtra. The Congress Party has tried to muzzle his voice and wants to even remove him from their social media groups. What tolerance is this?" the PM said at a rally in Surendranagar.
"Thank you @PMOIndia (Prime Minister's Office). I will continue my fight against dynasty politics -- I will not be cowed down by attempts to silence me," said Poonawalla on Twitter.
"Sardar Patel was denied his due years ago. I contacted @OfficeOfRG (Rahul Gandhi's office) even today (Sunday) asking his office to meet me so I could give them proof about the rigged election of Rahul Gandhi -- they insulted me just like Patel must have been insulted," he added.
Poonawalla wrote: "Tomorrow, voters of the Congress will give a befitting reply to Shehzada for denying us Shehzads the right to challenge the Crowning of the Prince -- will give details tomorrow morning -- hope not eliminated like Safdar Hashmi -- will avenge Sardar Patel's insult too."
"Analyse the truth friends: Even today I criticised @PMOIndia (like always) yet @Narendra Modi ji praised me and dynasty slaves of @OfficeOfRG who I served selflessly for 8-9 years (who cheer for Yashwant, Shourie) removed me!! Emergency has returned to dynasty's DNA?" he tweeted.
Analyse the truth friends: even today I criticised @PMOIndia (like always) yet @narendramodi ji praised me & dynasty slaves of @OfficeOfRG who I served selflessly for 8-9years (who cheer for Yashwant,Shourie) removed me!! Emergency has returned to dynasty's DNA? https://t.co/srpte76NlS— Shehzad Jai Hind (@Shehzad_Ind) December 3, 2017
The protest by rebel leader Poonawalla is likely to cause some serious damage to the Congress during the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections, scheduled on December 9 and 14.