Cracking the whip against Rajasthan MLA Bhanwar Lal Sharma for criticising Rahul Gandhi, the Congress on Sunday suspended him from the party, a day after he dubbed him 'MD of a team of jokers'.
"Sharma has been suspended by the PCC chief on a direction by the AICC general secretary in-charge Gurudas Kamat," PCC spokesperson Archna Sharma said.
The Congress' action came close on the heels of the party's Kerala unit suspending former state minister TH Mustafa for blaming Rahul for the Lok Sabha poll debacle and accusing him of 'behaving like a joker'.
In an indication of growing dissent in the party, Sharma had on Saturday attacked the leadership of Rahul, saying he was directionless and surrounded by advisers who lack political understanding.
Rahul had led the Congress' poll campaign, though he was not projected as the party's prime ministerial nominee. The Congress won just 44 of the 543 seats in its worst-ever performance in the general elections.
Calling Rahul an 'MD of the Congressi Circus', Sharma had said party president Sonia Gandhi should shift her focus towards strengthening and restructuring the party in a democratic manner instead of showing affection for Rahul.
"The people who are around him (Rahul) are jokers. He is the MD of a team of jokers," Sharma told reporters.
"Rahul Gandhi is directionless and has no policy. He and his advisors are responsible for the party's embarrassment and defeat in elections as there is no huge mass support for him," Sharma had told PTI.
Both Rahul and Sonia had offered to resign following the poll debacle, but their proposal was turned down by top Congress leaders.
When contacted, Sharma on Sunday said that he was not aware whether he was suspended but said he did not care about the action.
"I am not bothered about the action. I was right in saying that Rahul is surrounded by such advisors who have no ground, no support and they all were responsible for the party defeat.
"The way the party is functioning now is very unfortunate," he said.
Leader of Opposition in the assembly Rameshwar Lal Dudi did not respond to calls despite repeated attempts.
A six-time MLA, Sharma represents Sardarshahar constituency in the Rajasthan assembly, in which Congress has 21 MLAs, including him.
In 2013 assembly elections, the BJP stormed to power with winning 163 out of 200 seats.
In Kerala, Mustafa was suspended for his remark that Rahul depended on a coterie close to him during the Lok Sabha campaign and that "acting like a joker" would not help in elections.
Mustafa, a five-time Congress MLA and former minister for civil supplies, also called for the removal of Rahul from all party posts and demanded his sister Priyanka Gandhi be made the new leader.