Congress president's election 'rigged' to favour Rahul Gandhi, says Shehzad Poonawalla; Tehseen slams brother
Shehzad Poonawalla questioned the process to elect the party president, calling it 'rigged' and said that Rahul Gandhi must first resign from his post.
Calling the process to elect the Congress president "rigged", the party's Maharashtra unit secretary Shehzad Poonawalla on Wednesday questioned the process to elect the party president, and said that Rahul Gandhi must first resign as its vice-president.
Shehzad said he would also contest the election if it was conducted in a "genuine" manner. On Tuesday, he also wrote a letter to Rahul in this regard.
"I cannot contest a rigged election. If the system is genuine, then I will contest. It is a rigged election... it is a selection. Delegates who are going to vote for this election have not been elected as per the constitutional requirements. They have been handpicked," he told IANS.
Shehzad further said: "I will contest if Rahulji 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 vice-president. He will leave his post, I will leave my post... then, we can contest."
"Third, 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," he said.
"And finally, I want him to accept that our party must have a rule of one family-one ticket. I will be happy to contest a genuine election, not a rigged election," the party leader added.
In his letter to Gandhi, Shehzad asked several questions.
The upcoming Congress president election is a selection and not an election. Its a sham election process: Shehzad Poonawalla,Maharashtra Congress Secretary pic.twitter.com/TdQSXs98Wq
— ANI (@ANI) November 30, 2017
"Firstly, 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,"
I have got info that the delegates who are going to vote for the party president elections are fixed, its rigged. They have been appointed for their loyalty. Yes It takes courage to speak out, there will be all kinds of attacks against me,but I have facts: Shehzad Poonawalla pic.twitter.com/On13hqIteP — ANI (@ANI) November 30, 2017
"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?" he wrote.
"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 vice-president 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 v-p (who was selected and not elected or the number two in the party)?" he said.
I think there should be only one ticket in one family, be it Shehzad Poonawalla or Rahul Gandhi: Shehzad Poonawalla,Maharashtra Congress Secretary pic.twitter.com/wZebbU7S8T
— ANI (@ANI) November 30, 2017
"Since the delegate system is completely rigged and manipulated, for a fair fight for the presidentship, will you allow real delegates to get appointed and vote rather than a bunch of handpicked 'yes' men?
"If not, will you at least face your rival in a televised debate to see who articulates a better vision for the Congress party and India? Will you allow yourself to be judged on merit rather than your surname? If yes, let's have that contest. I am ready," he added.
Shehzad further said: "You failed to deliver on the promise that IYC, NSUI won't end up electing children of 'netas'. Will you at least now curb the innumerable dynasts who are given tickets and posts in the party by implementing the rule - one ticket/post?"
"So, if I have a party ticket or post, my brother, sister, mother, brother-in-law, etc, cannot be eligible for a ticket or post. We are not into some family business, are we?" his letter read.
However, Shehzad's brother Tehseen refused to be associated with his comments.
I really don't know why Shehzad did this, its very surprising, he did not discuss this at all with the family. Washing dirty linen in public is wrong. We now have nothing to do with him, I publicly say this: Tehseen Poonawalla pic.twitter.com/qYuWirxHdF — ANI (@ANI) November 30, 2017
With inputs from PTI
The Congress general secretary was subsequently put in a vehicle forcibly by police and taken away.
Gandhi urged the party leaders to work unitedly for the 2023 assembly polls and not speak out publicly on leadership and internal matters
Rahul Gandhi has so far not given any clear indication of contesting the elections.