Congress president's election 'rigged' to favour Rahul Gandhi, says Shehzad Poonawalla; Tehseen slams brother

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.

 Congress presidents election rigged to favour Rahul Gandhi, says Shehzad Poonawalla; Tehseen slams brother

File image of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Image courtesy: Facebook/INC Gujarat

"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.

"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,"

"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.

"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.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Nov 30, 2017 15:09:30 IST