Sanjay Jha had tweeted that Congress has “drifted far” from its democratic and tolerant values (File)
Sanjay Jha has been suspended from the Congress, with immediate effect, for “anti-party activities and breach of discipline”.
The notice, issued late Tuesday by Maharashtra Congress and signed by Balasaheb Thorat, chief of the party’s state unit, came shortly after Mr Jha appeared on NDTV’s “Left, Right and Centre”.
“Nothing surprises me. What are the anti-party activities I indulged in? The least the Congress could have done was to approach me,” Mr Jha told NDTV in his immediate reaction to the suspension.
“We are showing an extremely intolerant culture,” he said, adding, “I’ve always maintained that until we get our internal democracy right we will struggle to become a serious political contestant to the BJP”.
Shri Sanjay Jha has been suspended from the Congress Party with immediate effect for anti-party activities and breach of discipline. pic.twitter.com/TaT0gWbCc7
— Maharashtra Congress (@INCMaharashtra) July 14, 2020
Minutes later Mr Jha changed his Twitter bio to read: “Congressi by DNA. Sacked as National Spokesperson for writing: ‘India needs a reawakened and revitalized Congress, ready to win the second freedom struggle’.”
The Congress’s action comes amid chaos in Rajasthan, where the Ashok Gehlot government is teetering on the edge of collapse after Sachin Pilot’s open revolt.
This is a revolt some Congress leaders have suggested could have been avoided had party leadership made better decisions and rewarded people who had contributed to its growth.
Earlier today Mr Jha posted this tweet: “For five years Sachin Pilot gave his blood, tears, toil and sweat for the Congress party between 2013-18. The Congress came back from a wretched 21 seats to 100. We just gave him a performance bonus. We are so meritocratic. We are so transparent”.
For five years Sachin Pilot gave his blood , tears, toil and sweat for the Congress party between 2013-18. The Congress came back from a wretched 21 seats to 100.
We just gave him a performance bonus. We are so meritocratic. We are so transparent.
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) July 14, 2020
The stand-off between Mr Pilot, widely seen as one of the Congress’s more dynamic younger leaders and a key asset, and the party, has drawn critical comparison to that between the party and another dynamic young leader – Jyotiraditya Scindia.
In March, Mr Scindia, who was left disgruntled after being passed over for the top post in Madhya Pradesh, crossed over to the BJP, taking 22 MLAs and paving the way for the fall of the Kamal Nath government and the return to power of the BJP.
The Congress top leadership was criticised then for being slow to react to the simmering unrest in the state and apparently refusing, or unwilling, to address Mr Scindia’s unhappiness.
The similarities in the way the Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan crises developed and Congress’s handling of these two leaders has drawn criticism from within too. On Sunday, former Union Minister Kapil Sibal asked, “Worried for our party. Will we wake up only after the horses have bolted from our stable”.
Mr Jha, a veteran leader of the Congress, was last month also removed as party spokesperson after a critical takedown of his party in an article. Shortly after the article was published, he doubled down on his criticism, tweeting that the Congress had “drifted far” from its democratic, tolerant and liberal values.
Pandit Nehru once wrote a self-critical piece anonymously in a newspaper warning against becoming autocratic. That is the true Congress;democratic, liberal, tolerant, inclusive. We have drifted far from those values. Why?
I remain a committed fearless ideological soldier of INC.
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) June 18, 2020
He stressed, however, that he remained a “committed, fearless ideological soldier” of the party.