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Anti-RaGa Shehzad: “Cheap publicity” for personal elevation?

As soon as the Congress Working Committee announced that the election for the post of party president will be held on December 16 with the counting of votes scheduled for December 19, the young Congress leader of Maharashtra rebelled against the internal electoral procedure of Congress. The young leader was expecting more than what he was given, finally he restored to media exposing some audio tapes of senior leaders and their understanding about Congress party. His brother Tehseen Poonawalla, a prominent member of Congress and known as an internet sensation when it comes to present the stand of party ended all relations with his brother Shehzad Poonawalla, because Shehzad came out blasting the Congress for rigging its Presidential elections for Rahul Gandhi. Shehzad is not a much known face but his brother is a political trendwatcher, life coach, entrepreneur and columnist, a student of mythology yet an atheist. His Twitter followers are upwards of 1 lakh, and his tweets seem to get rocket engagement. He is on most of the national news channels as a panellist speaking for his party. He is the one who has always maintained dignified stand for his leaders too. Tehseen is one who is very close to Gandhi family as a friend, spokesperson and loyal worker. On the other hand, brother Shehzad could not make it to fame or popularity.

Shehzad is a stinging Congress leader who is known to be not so close to the family. Is he doing this to identify and isolate potential threat to the dynasty? He may be part of the drama enacted by the dynasty. Congress leader and Maharashtra Congress secretary Shehzad Poonawalla, who has called the process to elect party president as ‘rigged’, accused Rahul Gandhi’s office of insulting him. On the day notification was issued for the election to choose the next Congress president, he raised more questions over the election process. Shehzad Poonawalla alleged that the party’s spokesperson Manish Tewari had told him during a conversation that the Congress was a “proprietorship” like every other political party in India. The audio clip of the purported conversation between Poonawalla and Tewari was also played out by TV news channel Times Now. I don’t know what new thing Shehzad discovered or what is exactly he is trying to gain out of this controversy. He, as a Congress worker should know, this is the background of Congress for ages. Willingly he chose to be a worker of Congress and now all of a sudden expecting drastic changes?? Shehzad pretty much said that the current Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is an undemocratic shoo-in for the post and that was not fair.

Shehzad questioning the upcoming Congress presidential poll’s modus operandi, he believes and we all know that the Congress president election is a selection and not an election. It’s a sham election process and this is not the first time that Shehzad is witnessing it, the plot behind making noise is nothing but the conspiracy to gain some headlines. Poonawalla also said he did not have problem with surnames but merit should be rewarded, and talks about Ajay Maken continuing as Delhi Congress chief despite the party losing several elections. The last date of filing nominations for the organisational polls in which Rahul Gandhi is slated to be elected party chief is December 4.

The Congress had raised questions over Poonawalla’s stature in the party and slammed him for showing disgruntlement on the eve of election. Shehzad Poonawalla has become the first in the party to raise his voice against the elevation of Rahul Gandhi as president. Known as a Gandhi family relative in political circle, Poonawalla shocked everyone when he claimed that the party presidential polls are rigged in favour of Gandhi. Shehzad currently serves as a Secretary in Maharashtra Congress and now asked to resign from the party. Apart from his association with the Gandhi family, Shehzad formerly served with Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs. He has been described as ‘a lawyer, civil rights activist and a Congress party supporter’. He even challenged Gandhi for a televised debate. Shehzad is learnt to have started his career with Congress in 2008. He has served as a member of the research team of the All India Congress Committee’s (AICC’s) media cell. Also, he has been a vice-president of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) wing in Pune. In his early days, Shehzad reportedly chalked out an organised course to groom himself before seeking a career in politics and governance. The young Congress leader is a graduate of the MIT School of Government (MIT-SOG), Pune. Poonawalla claimed that the delegates who are going to vote for the party president elections are fixed. He sent a direct message to Rahul Gandhi, “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.” Writing a letter to Gandhi, he asked, “We are not into some family business, are we? I hope Shehzad gets his answer, but more than that I am sure Shehzad already knows the answer but still lingering on for his personal elevation and publicity. We all know for that matter, Congress is not going to end by these political stunts and we also know other than Gandhis, no other leader has capability to bind Congress.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Congress unit and his family members have virtually “disowned” Shehzad. State Congress President Ashok Chavan has said Poonawalla’s remarks were aimed at getting “cheap publicity”, to which the party gives no importance.

In India, not only Congress but most of the political parties have same problem, Akhilesh Yadav is a dynasty. Stalin [son of M. Karunanidhi in the DMK] is a dynasty. As far as prominent and typical dynasty is concerned, the INC is the fore runner. It has started way back in the 30’s and 40’s of the 20th century. Other political parties of India have taken a cue from the INC. Typical dynastic families are the Lalus, Mulayams, MKs and the Abdullah’s. There are some young leaders in BJP, whose parents were in the party and government positions, who are holding posts in the party or govt. But, unlike RaGa, their future responsibilities are decided by their party and not by their parents. In INC, Sonia will decide the fate of every leader including her son. So, no comparisons can be made between INC and BJP as regards to dynastic politics. INC is class apart in that regard. No one can come near them.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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