Current Affairs

Congress Leader slams dynasty politics, Attacks Rahul, system

Yatindra Bhatnagar

Probably the first time in recent history of the Congress Party, a state unit president has attacked the party’s dynastic policy and slammed the ‘rigged’ process of electing the president of the organization. 

In a scathing letter to party president Rahul Gandhi – slated to become president very soon – Maharashtra Congress Secretary Shehzad Poonawalla questioned the process of ‘selection’ of the president and even the delegates’ who are supposed to ‘select’ the leader. 

Poonawalla challenged Rahul to a debate to find who is better qualified to be the president and let the people know his vision for the Congress Party. 

Not since the sixties when the Delhi Congress chief and one-time Chief Minister of Delhi, Chaudhary Brahma Prakash, no one had shown the guts of raising his voice against the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Then Brahma Prakash had charged that Indira Gandhi was behaving like a ‘Grand Moghal.’ That remark was, naturally, blasted by the party insiders and later Prakash was out of Congress. 

Since then Indira Gandhi/Sanjay Gandhi and now Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have been holding the dominating posts that has resulted in weakening of the organization. 

That Poonawalla raised pertinent questions and challenged Rahul is something sensational and significant that the Congressmen and women, the rank and file, should pay heed to. Whether something will happen – or Poonawala be expelled – is to be seen. 

IANS has given a detailed account of the letter sent to Rahul Gandhi on Nov. 28 questioning the process to elect party president calling it "rigged" and said Vice President Rahul Gandhi must first resign from his post.

Poonawalla said he would also contest the election if it was conducted in a "genuine" manner. He wrote a letter to Rahul Gandhi 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.

Poonawalla further said: "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.

"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 in a genuine election, not in a rigged election," the party leader added.

In his letter to Gandhi, Poonawalla 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 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 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."

Poonawalla 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 to only one member in any family?

"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.