Congress leader Manish Tewari today said he could not recall having any conversation with Shehzad Poonawalla in which he allegedly told the Maharashtra Congress leader the party is a “proprietorship of the Gandhi family”, ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s imminent elevation as its president. After a tape of the purported conversation between Tewari and Poonawalla was aired by some news channels, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had lapped up the reports and said the Congress lacked internal democracy. Tewari told reporters here that he did not remember any such conversation.
“There is a particular word in English called ‘snitch’. I am not a snitch. I do not go around recording conversations which I have with people throughout the day and I have hundreds of such conversations,” he said replying to a query on the purported conversation between him and Poonawalla.
The Congress spokesperson said he did not like to give “dignity” to the issue by commenting on it.
“I do not recall any such conversation and therefore I would not like to dignify (the issue) with (my) comment. And the reason that I found it so funny was that those media outlets which were running (the audio tape) with heavy disclaimers, uncorroborated, unverified…possibly careful that I am a lawyer and my other colleagues are also lawyers,” he said.
Poonawalla had allegedly spoken about “dynastic politics” in the Congress over Rahul Gandhi’s imminent elevation as the chief of the party, currently headed by his mother Sonia Gandhi.
According to the purported conversation, Tewari told Poonawalla that the Congress is a “proprietorship of the Gandhi family” and “not a political party.
He had allegedly told Poonawalla that “political parties in India are proprietorships”.
Poonawalla had allegedly said the Congress president’s election is “rigged” and raised questions about the “one family-one ticket” rule.
Addressing an election rally on Sunday, Modi had said, “They keep on muttering words like tolerance, tolerance, tolerance…but the party has brought out a diktat to silence this youth (Poonawalla). The party has gagged him in all WhatsApp groups. He has been collectively boycotted by that party (for raising questions over the process of the election and alleging that it is being rigged)”.
Attacking Modi, Tewari said the prime minister was campaigning for the Gujarat polls and talking about “history and fake development” out of his “nervousness”.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi knows that the people prefer the Congress and that is why he is giving discourses about history and on fake development. If a prime minister is confident about his working style, then he does not need to go around campaigning in an election,” Tewari told the presser.
He claimed that no prime minister before Modi had campaigned in such a manner.
“No prime minister before him (Modi) had ever gone around making election campaigns (in such a manner). He is the prime minister of 125 crore people, and words used by him are not becoming of a prime minister…This is because of his nervousness,” the Congress leader alleged.
Tewari said Modi was campaigning extensively because if Gujarat is taken away from him “many more secrets will tumble out”.
“Why Gujarat has seen such a widespread discontent and agitations? It is because Gujarat has got three chief ministers…Even after Modiji became prime minister, he is running the state with a remote control. BJP president Amit Shah is a small remote control who has his own agenda,” Tewari alleged.
During canvassing, Rahul Gandhi had often said that incumbent Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani was a “rubber stamp”.
Tewari said the people of Gujarat have to decide if they want a chief minister who works for them or who runs on a remote control.
Taking a dig at the BJP for touting the Gujarat model as a development benchmark, Tewari said this “Modi model of development” is “hurting” the country, especially Gujarat.
“What pains most is that the way they (BJP leaders) have misled the people of Gujarat and the youth by showing them the dream of good days,” he said.
Tewari alleged education has become “un-affordable” in Gujarat.
Reiterating Rahul Gandhi’s promise, he said if voted to power, the Congress will “convert all self-financed courses being offered in government colleges into grant-in-aid”.
“There will be 80-95 per cent drop in fees. We will ensure that all self-financed courses offered in all public universities, colleges and government-aided institutions get converted into grant-in-aid,” he said.
Tewari said the Congress will convert “fixed pay jobs” into regular jobs if it forms government in the state.
“We are not making promises that we cannot fulfil. Gujarat is a prosperous state but the state government is busy appeasing the ‘suit-boot’ government,” he said.