The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) on Thursday suspended former state minister TH Mustafa from the party for calling vice- president Rahul Gandhi a joker and blaming him for the party's worst-ever drubbing in the general elections.
KPCC chief VM Sudheeran said the failure was the collective responsibility of the party and it was wrong to blame a few individuals for the debacle. The KPCC has also asked party leaders not to air their views in public.
"Rahul behaved like a joker and that is why the party suffered... The job of a PM is not child's play and people knew it, and handed out the worst defeat to the Congress. He should take responsibility and quit," Mustafa had said recently.
The Congress, which was in power at the Centre for 10 years, won just 44 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats this time.In Kerala, the party won eight of the 20 seats and fared relatively better as compared with other states.
Reacting to the Congress' decision to suspend him, Mustafa, also a KPCC member, said he was not concerned about the action, and stood by the statement he made. Mustafa was the food minister in the cabinet of late K Karunakaran.
After the Lok Sabha poll results were announced on May 16, Rahul as well as his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi had accepted the responsibility for the defeat.
Later, at a party meeting, they had offered to resign, but the proposal was turned down unanimously by other leaders.
Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal sidestepped Mustafa's comment and asked party leaders to raise issues internally.
Former minority affairs minister K Rehman Khan also said the issues should be raised in the party forum.
"Who is responsible and what has happened is a matter to be investigated. Congress president and vice-president have said that they have taken the responsibility. It does not mean that you go on criticising them. Going public with your views is against party discipline," he said.
(With PTI inputs)
Watch video: Kerala Congress leader calls Rahul Gandhi a joker