In a major setback for the Congress party, the son of the local party leader worked for former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi for decades, has now decided to challenge party President Rahul Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi constituency only days ahead of Lok Sabha polls.
Haji Haroon Rasheed, son of Haji Sultan Khan, who has been a Congress loyalist for decades and worked on the nomination forms of Rajiv Gandhi in the 1991 parliamentary elections and Sonia Gandhi in 1999, has dumped the Grand Old party and decided to fight the elections against the party chief and Union Minister Smriti Irani, citing the reason that under UPA regime 'no development has taken shape in constituency' over the past two tenure.
Speaking to Republic TV, Haji Haroon Rasheed stated the reason for his decision to contest against Rahul Gandhi to be the ignorant attitude of the Congress party towards the development of the Muslim minority (which is approximately 20 of the total voter base as per 2014 stats) in Amethi.
'I had a relationship with this (Gandhi) family since the past 70 years. My father was born in Amethi, then he worked with Maulana Azad, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi. Indira Gandhi wanted to make him a minister but he wanted to work for the nation. Now, when you stay in a family for 70 years, there's a reason that you decide to leave the party. People quit the party within 2-5 years. I stayed here for 70 years. There's a serious reason behind quilting the party. I worked for Congress party in U.P. When Assembly elections were held in the state, there was 18 percent minority vote there. Almost 20 seats should have gone to the minorities. But Ambika Soni (Punjab Congress MP) decided to give only 10 seats. At the last moment it was decided, now where will the Muslim go? Muslim was given only 3 seats - this happened in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat," the former Congress loyalist said.
Adding that under UPA's regime, no strong development has been done for the Muslim minorities in Amethi over the past 10 years, Haji Haroon Rasheed lashed out at Rahul Gandhi, saying that post former PM Rajiv Gandhi's leadership, Muslims have been ignored by the Grand Old Party in the country.
"In Amethi, they did not do anything in the development. UPA has been ruling Amethi for over 10 years now. They have not carried on the work by Rajiv Gandhi ji. There are three monkeys in here - Kishori Lal Sharma, Dheeraj Shrivasta and Chandrakant Dubey. A man who cannot take his own decisions, how will he run the country. No work has been done post Rajiv Gandhi's reign in Amethi," he added.
He further slammed the 'dynastic politics' of the Congress party which has led to sidelining the other minorities within the party.
"There has been dynastic politics within the Congress party. I am the son of farmer. They don't know the ground reality. It has become a party of Kings and Queens. The public including the Dalits, minorities together has taken the decision for me to contest against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi. In 2014, Muslims worked together to ensure Rahul Gandhi's win. They all turned to Congress to help him win. Now they are being ignored. Nothing has been done for their development," Haji Haroon Rasheed said.