Maharashtra Congress Secretary Shehzad Poonawalla on Wednesday questioned the party’s presidential election process and said it was rigged, IANS reported.

Criticising “dynasty politics”, Poonawalla said that he will also contest the party poll if Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi agrees to have elected delegates and if Gandhi resigns from his post and participates as an ordinary member of the Congress.

The statement comes just a week before Gandhi was expected to be elevated as the party president. Voting for the party’s presidential poll will take place on December 16, and votes will be counted on December 19. But Gandhi was expected to be the only candidate in the fray. In that case, Congress will announce his victory on December 5, the day of scrutiny of candidates’ nominations.

“I cannot contest a rigged election,” Poonawalla said. “If the system is genuine, then I will contest. It is a rigged is a selection. Delegates who are going to vote for this election have not been elected as per the constitutional requirements...They have been handpicked.”

The Maharashtra Congress leader also asked if Rahul Gandhi would be willing to have a televised debate on their vision for the party and the country. He asked, “Will you allow yourself to be judged on merit rather than your surname?”

Poonawalla said that he had written a letter to Gandhi on Tuesday. He wrote that he joined in 2008-2009, and has since then spent “time, energy and money working voluntarily for the party” at all levels and then got elevated after eight years to the position of a secretary in a state unit in 2016.

“But how and why (other than your surname) did you, in the same time span, start off with an MP seat in 2004 itself, get general secretaryship in 2007, and then graduate to vice presidentship of the national unit while your mother was the president?” he wrote.

Poonawalla added: “Did you win us more elections, were you genuinely elected to these posts, did you give better speeches than other leaders?” Urging Gandhi to resign from his post as the vice president, he said, “How can it be a fair contest if a common worker has to contest against the vice president (who was selected and not elected as the VP or the number two in the party)?”

He further asked if the Congress will now “curb the innumerable dynasts who are given tickets and posts in the party” by implementing the rule of issuing one ticket or post to only one member in a family. “So if I have a party ticket or post, my brother, sister, mother, brother-in-law, etc, cannot be eligible for a ticket or post. We are not into some family business, are we?” Poonawalla wrote.