Facing a tough challenge to its hegemony of over two decades in Gujarat, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to cement its chances with help from all quarters, some of them quite interesting. The latest to join the BJP bandwagon — although not openly — is Congressman-turned-Rahul-Gandhi-critic Shehzad Poonawalla, who recently launched a direct challenge to Congress dynasticism as he questioned Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the top party post in a “sham election”. Poonawalla now hopes to deal a body blow to the Congress plan to dethrone the BJP on the Prime Minister’s home state by starting an anti-Rahul campaign from Rajkot on December 8.Having decided take a plunge into the muddied waters of Gujarat elections, Poonawalla hopes to do to the Congress what Hardik Patel is trying to do to the BJP — upset the applecart.Poonawalla’s campaign, he asserts, is aimed at defeating “Congress’s dynastic moorings, though not to ensure BJP victory”.”On December 8, I shall sound the bugle against the Aurangzeb of Congress in Rajkot. I will hold a press conference on the theme ‘Asli Congress bachao, Vanshwad ko hatao’ (save the real Congress and remove dynasticism). The first challenge to Congress’ internal emergency which runs in the DNA of Rahul Gandhi needs to start from the state which first challenged Indira Gandhi’s Emergency of 1975 . This will be a pan-India campaign in which I shall be joined by all Congressmen and party sympathisers who agree with my cause,” Poonawalla said.But, Poonawalla doesn’t plan to stop once Gujarat elections are over. He wants to adopt the same strategy in the Gandhi family bastion of Amethi in the 2019 general elections.As much a matter of Gandhi-Nehru prestige as winning Gujarat is for the BJP, the Maharashtra Congress leader would campaign among the people of Amethi to defeat the Gandhi scion, though not as a rival candidate.”Rahul Gandhi will be the first illegal and unconstitutional president in the history ofthe Congress. Therefore it will be observed as a Black Day. Thousands and thousands of Congress supporters will change the display picture on their social media handles to black. My supporters will protest across India wearing black clothes. The Rajkot campaign will culminate in Amethi in 2019,” Poonawalla told DNA.We shall be working day in and day out for the success of the party across all Lok Sabha seats in India, but for one, Amethi. As I shall depose the Aurangzeb of Congress from Amethi, Congress activists will displace him from Akbar Road in Delhi,” Poonawalla asserted.He is also planning to challenge Rahul’s election as Congress president legally. Poonawalla claimed that he has sought the advice of several former Chief Election Commissioners to explore grounds on which Rahul’s elevation to the post of Congress president can be challenged in a court of law.”From moral to legal, I will make this a public challenge for the Shehzada (Rahul Gandhi) and his cronies within the Congress party. I am ready to fight this in the court of the people ultimately,” he said.
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DNA EXCLUSIVE | Gujarat elections 2017: Now, Shehzad Poonawalla vs Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat