'Rigged polls' cloud on Rahul's elevation as Cong prez

'Rigged polls' cloud on Rahul's elevation as Cong prez

A Congress leader's claims about organisational polls being rigged, has raised a cloud over Rahul Gandhi's elevation as party president next week.

A day after Maharashtra Congress secretary Shehzad Poonawala's startling claims in the midst of the internal elections and the heated campaign for Gujarat Assembly polls, Congress disowned the leader declaring him persona non grata.

The Central Election Authority of the Congress is scheduled to issue the notification for the presidential election on Thursday and Rahul is expected to file his nomination papers on Monday.

Poonawala's claims also prompted his brother Tehseen, who is married to Robert Vadra's cousin Monicka, to dissociate from him. "I got him up like my son. He backstabbed me," said Tehseen.

Criticising "dynasty politics", Poonawala said that he will also contest the party poll if Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi agrees to have elected delegates and if Gandhi resigns from his post and participates as an ordinary member of the Congress.

Poonawala said he had written to Rahul about the working of the Congress party and claimed that his mails were leaked to the media.

"I don't think I am required to dignify such comments with a response. It actually adds weight to the maker of such absolutely silly comments," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters here.

Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan said Poonawala was not associated with the party and has been working independently for the past two-and-a-half years.

Now independent

Congress leaders said that Poonawala was a secretary in the Maharashtra unit till recently but had not bothered to renew his primary membership with the party during the ongoing organisational elections.

Poonawala and his brother Tehseen were instrumental in the 'Maanav Suraksha Kanoon' campaign against rising intolerance against minorities under the Modi government. The duo had got leaders of at least a dozen political parties, including Congress, CPM, RJD and NCP, to join them in demanding a law against mob lynching.

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