Congress suspends Kerala leader who called Rahul a ‘joker’

The Kerala unit of the Congress has suspended former minister and All India Congress Committee (AICC) member T H Mustafa from the party for calling vice president Rahul Gandhi a ‘joker’ and demanding elevation of his sister Priyanka Vadra as the party leader.

By Reporting From Trivandrum (T. K. Devasia)

Published: Sat 31 May 2014, 9:08 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:07 AM

As the remark fuelled a controversy with party leaders across the country condemning it, a meeting of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) executive committee felt that the senior Congress leader committed “a serious mistake” by singling out Rahul for the debacle the party suffered in the just concluded elections. Briefing newsmen on the committee decisions here on Friday, V M Sudheeran, president of the KPCC, pointed out that the Congress had won the polls in 2004 and 2009 under the leadership of Rahul and his mother Sonia Gandhi. The style of blaming them when the party suffers a setback is not correct, he added.

Sudheeran pointed out that the outbursts of Mustafa were against the position the party had taken at the national and state level that individual leaders should not be held responsible for the defeat.

In fact several members, who spoke at the executive committee, made critical remarks against the central leadership of the party but none named Rahul or any other top leaders. However, most senior leaders held that it would be inappropriate to put the entire blame on any particular leader. Mustafa, a five legislator and a minister in the K Karunakaran cabinet (1991-95), had told a news conference in Cochin on Thursday that Rahul had behaved like a joker and that’s the reason why the Congress suffered a major reversal in the Lok Sabha polls.

“The role of a prime minister is not child’s play and the people knew it and handed out the worst defeat to the Congress. Rahul should take responsibility and quit and if not he should be removed and Priyanka should be made the new president of the party,” he added.

The senior leader, who is known for openly attacking top leaders, said Rahul depended on a coterie close to him during the campaign. His style of working using computer and internet and in the company of a group of senior leaders who only praise whatever he does has caused this defeat. Mustafa accepted the action taken against him. He refused to elaborate further on the issue. However, the State Youth Congress has demanded his expulsion from the party. Many senior leaders in the state and at the national level felt Mustafa had breached the organisational discipline and decorum.

Leaders like Mani Shankar Iyer, Meem Afzal and K Rehman Khan said Mustafa could raise his opinion in the party forum. Curiously Mustafa kept off the executive committee meeting that decided the action against him.

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