Maharashtra Congress Secretary Shehzad Poonawalla on Sunday maintained his stance on the presidential election of his party, appropriating Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the party's alleged non-allegiance towards him.
Poonawalla also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for praising him for his bravery and said, "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."
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Modi endorsed Poonawalla's allegations and called out the rival party for the lack of "internal democracy" within.
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
"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 prime minister said, addressing a rally in Gujarat.
The prime minister further dubbed the discord thus exposed within the Congress Party as indicative of its ineffectuality to govern a nation.
Speaking to ANI, Poonawalla said, "I did not raise my voice for the party ticket. I don't want the president post in Congress. I only said that we must try to end the dynastic politics and we must have elections for the president post, not the selection or coronation of Rahul Gandhi. When I raised my voice for this, they said I was not a party member. If Sardar Patel was insulted by Congress leadership back then, I feel the same way today."
Speaking to media in New Delhi, Poonwala said that Congress Party 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," he said.
"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.
Rubbishing Congress' claims that he 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.
On a related note, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been attacking Congress, alleging it of having sidelined Sardar Patel in the party cadres.
The fight over Sardar Patel's legacy escalated on October 31, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked Congress for having tried to "run down and erase" the former's contributions to the unification of the country after Independence.
Meanwhile, Poonawalla claimed many Congress leaders, including Ajay Maken, Sandeep Dikshit, and Manish Tiwari, had termed the process to elect party president "rigged".
"I provided the proof of many Congress leaders calling this election rigged and many called it a proprietorship, but there was no answer from Congress. They humiliated me instead," he added.
The Congress leader further said he even called up Rahul Gandhi's office to stop the process, but they hung up his call.
"Today also I sent a message and made a call to Rahul Gandhi to ask him for time so that I could give a proof before he files his nomination for this coronation; so that he has some morality and stops the process and takes the right decision. But his office insulted me and cut the phone," he added.