BJP president Amit Shah Sunday dubbed the Congress as a "private limited company" of the Nehru-Gandhi family as he took aims at the opposition party after Prime Minister Narendra Modi dared it to appoint a head from outside the family.
In a statement, Mr Shah said the Congress had become more of a family enterprise aimed at dynastic service than a political party aimed at public service, and that no person outside the family had any right over it.
Taking a dig at Congress leaders, including P Chidambaram who had named several party presidents hailing from outside the Gandhi family, he said PM Modi's challenge had ruffled several feathers with "many courtiers going out of the way to prove their loyalty".
Evidently, the prime minister's point had struck a raw nerve, Mr Shah added.
At a poll rally in Chhattisgarh Friday, PM Modi had said if the the Congress appointed someone not from the Gandhi family as its president for at least five years, then he would believe that Jawaharlal Nehru had indeed put in place a truly democratic system in the opposition party.
The prime minister repeated his words at another poll rally in the state Sunday.
"The Prime Minister is right. The Congress (Indira) since its inception in 1978 has been led by four members of one family for most of the years, thus making it more of a family enterprise aimed at dynastic service rather than a political party aimed at public service," Mr Shah said.
"The Congress is Nehru-Gandhi family's private limited company over which nobody outside the family has any right," he added.
Mr Shah was referring to the split in the Congress in 1978 following its loss in the 1977 parliamentary polls, with the Indira Gandhi-led faction recognised as Congress(I). As she returned to power in 1980, her faction was later recognised by the Election Commission (EC) as the real Congress.
Two Congress chiefs, who were not from the Nehru-Gandhi family, were treated in the "most shabby" manner possible in the recent past, Mr Shah alleged.
While P V Narasimha Rao's body, after his demise, was never allowed inside the Congress office, Sitaram Kesri, a towering leader, was "roughed up by goons loyal to we know who", he added.
PM Modi, at a rally in Chhattisgarh Sunday, also alleged that Kesri was not allowed to complete his term as the Congress chief and was forced to make way for Sonia Gandhi.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president cited the examples of several "non-family" Congress presidents to back his claim.
"Going further back in time, the likes of Babu Jagjivan Ram, S Nijalingappa, K Kamaraj were humiliated by one family. Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, though senior, was not allowed to be president by one family. U N Dhebar was asked to step aside as Congress president for Mrs. Indira Gandhi," he said.
Mr Shah claimed that Acharya Kripalani, a stalwart who worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, was "humiliated" through the 1950s and 1960s.
"His crime- he moved the first motion of no-confidence against the Nehru Government," he said.
Following PM Modi's challenge, P Chidambaram had hit back by listing out the names of Congress presidents from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family.
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