The Congress clamped on Monday a gag order to restrain its leaders from speaking out of turn, drawing a sharp response from two defiant leaders Manish Tewari and Rashid Alvi who said it is not time for fighting and humiliating each other.
"Only the spokespersons in the linked list are authorised to speak on behalf of the party", Ajai Maken, AICC general secretary and media department chief, said putting out a list of the five senior spokespersons and 13 spokespersons on Twitter.
The action was seen in party circles as a snub to party leaders like Tewari and Alvi, though at the AICC briefing, party general secretary and spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed repeatedly denied that the party is voicing any opposition to any particular leader.
Ahmed's refrain was that there are 18 designated spokespersons in the party and that it is they who are authorised to give the official line of the party.
Certain remarks by Tewari and Alvi were not found in tandem with the party's official line. Moreover, there is talk of an internal rivalry among young leaders for media space.
Unfazed by the party's gag order, a defiant Tewari and Alvi said they would continue to express their viewpoints even while maintaining that it's time to fight communalism and "not fight and humiliate" each other.
Stung by AICC's diktat, Tewari, who was acting chairman of the media department till sometime ago, hit back as did Alvi who was unceremoniously removed as spokesperson last year.
While Tewari said he does not require a "noun or an adjective" with his name to intervene in public discourse, Alvi said Congressmen "should not fight and humiliate each other", suggesting some sort of a rivalry among party leaders for media space.
"I ceased to be national spokesperson of the INC in Oct 2012. When I intervene in the public discourse I do as an ordinary Cong worker who has served the party for 34 yrs. There are certain core convictions I believe in.
"When they are assaulted, I do not require a noun or a adjective behind my noun to intervene in the public discourse as as a party activist I do not hold myself out as the spokesperson," Tewari said in three successive tweets.
contd or a adjective behind my noun to intervene in the public discourse as as a party activist I do not hold myself out as the Spokesperson— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) September 15, 2014
Alvi said "I always defend Congress party as an ordinary worker and I will continue to defend Congress party. I feel it is my responsibility as this is a very crucial time as the communal forces have not only taken over the country but are spreading communalism."