Congress activist's family 'disowns' him for anti-Rahul rant

Mumbai, Nov 30: A day after Congress' Maharashtra activist Shehzad Poonawalla asked the party's national Vice President Rahul Gandhi to resign before contesting the elections for party President, the state unit and his family members virtually "disowned" him on Thursday.

State Congress President Ashok Chavan said Poonawalla's remarks were aimed at getting "cheap publicity", to which the party gives no importance.

Questioning Poonawalla's locus standi, he said there is no truth in his allegations nor is Poonawalla a representative or leader of the party, has remained inactive since the past couple of years and done nothing for the party.

"Moreover, the newly-elected Pradesh Congress Committee representatives (delegates) have unanimously adopted a resolution asking Rahul Gandhi to contest the Congress President's election," Chavan pointed out.

He condemned Poonawalla for his reckless utterances when the election process is underway in a free and transparent manner, and said it was aimed at deriving media attention.

Shahzad's brother Tehseen Poonawalla, who is also with the state Congress, quickly declared that he "officially ended all relationship with (Shehzad)".

"I have never been this hurt. We needed to defeat the BJP. This is unacceptable. I'm very, very hurt today. Been stabbed in the backa and how," Tehseen said in a tweet.

Tehseen's wife - Monicka Vadera-Poonawalla followed suit and also expressed full support to her husband and all his statements in the matter which has snowballed into a raging controversy.

"My family and I neither have any relation, association, nor wish to comment on the issue or the said individual Shehzad Poonawalla. Please refrain from tweeting/contacting me for the same," Monicka declared in her tweet.

State Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said Poonawalla was not even a primary member of the party, so where was the question of him being a leader or a PCC representative.

"In reality, he is a self-proclaimed person, using the name of Rahulji for drawing public attention," he said.

Maharashtra Youth Congress Vice President Satyajeet Tambe said everytime he saw Shehzad Poonawalla representing the party on television debates, "I feel ashamed of myself".

"I am working in the Congress party since 17 years and loyal. Only because (such) people can speak few words in English better, doesn't make them great leaders... Congress should learn and keep such people away," he said.

Late on Wednesday night, Shehzad Poonawalla created a ruckus when he questioned the process to elect the Congress Party President, terming it "rigged" and calling upon Rahul Gandhi to first quit his post before contesting for the top post.

He also indicated his desire to contest for the top post, if the election was conducted in a "genuine" manner and wrote a letter to Rahul Gandhi in this connection.