Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan (pictured above) has criticised Shehzad Poonawalla, the secretary of the state unit, for saying that the party’s presidential election process was rigged in favour of Rahul Gandhi, IANS reported.

Poonawalla had criticised “dynasty politics” and urged Gandhi to resign as the party’s vice-president and contest as an ordinary member of Congress. Speaking to several media organisations, Poonawalla asked if Gandhi had risen to his current post because of his surname or because of the work he had done.

Chavan said that by making such comments Poonawalla was trying to get some “cheap publicity”. He accused Poonawalla of not doing anything for the party over the past two-and-a-half years. “I don’t think there is any truth in what Shehzad is saying,” Chavan said. “Moreover, he is not a Congressman.”

State Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said Poonawalla was not even a primary member of the party, and there was was no question of him representing it.

Besides Congress leaders, Poonawalla’s brother Tehseen Poonawalla also said he would cut ties with him because of what he had said. “It pains me deeply to see him do this,” Tehseen Poonawalla said in a statement. “This is totally unacceptable. We need to strengthen the Congress and allies to win.”