New Delhi, Jul 14, 2020: Sanjay Jha was 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 said in his immediate reaction to the suspension.
"We are showing an extremely intolerant culture," he said, noting he was neither consulted nor spoken to before the suspension.
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?" Mr Jha tweeted on June 18.
He stressed, however, that he remained a "committed, fearless ideological soldier" of the party.
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.
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.
He took with 22 Congress MLAs, 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 for being both slow to react to the simmering unrest in Madhya Pradesh and apparently refusing, or unwilling, to address Mr Scindia’s unhappiness.
Like Mr Scindia, Mr Pilot too has the support of a faction of MLAs, leaving the Ashok Gehlot government looking nervously over its shoulders if a trust vote should be called.
And, like Mr Scindia did, Mr Pilot too is being linked with a switch to the BJP; his camp has denied the crossover but not ruled it out.
The similarities in the way the Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan crises developed and Congress’s handling of these two young leaders has drawn criticism from within the party too.
On Sunday, former Union Minister Kapil Sibal tweeted, "Worried for our party. Will we wake up only after the horses have bolted from our stable".