The coincidences of two recent legal cases is interesting
It is often stated, “No one is above the law,” no matter how wealthy or powerful. While it may not be universally applicable, two recent legal cases in the largest democracy (India) and oldest democracy (United States) are interesting coincidences. We discuss two individuals who are wealthy, powerful, and politically influential in their own right but not above the law.
India’s 52 years old, Rahul Gandhi (RaGa), the “Prince” of the oldest party, Indian National Congress (INC), and the heir apparent of the Nehru dynasty, was sentenced to 2-years in jail on March 23. On the other end, the self-made 76 years old business tycoon Donald Trump, the former U.S. President, made history when charged with 34 felony counts on April 3.
What are the similarities and differences between the two cases and what may be their political future?
Rahul Gandhi was disqualified to continue as the Member of Parliament (MP) immediately after his jail sentence by a lower court in India. He has now moved to the Sessions court to overturn the lower court’s decision. Who knows if his influence as the scion of the INC may overturn or reduce the jail term reversing his disqualification from the Lok Sabha. If so, he will be back as a Member of Parliament. His appearance in the Sessions court was a huge pomp and show including her “Princess” sister, scores of Congress politicians, and a huge crowd.
Donald Trump, charged with felony charges, surrendered at Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, under heavy security for fear of agitation by Trump supporters. Trump was placed under arrest but only theoretically. He was neither handcuffed nor his shots taken being the former President. The special treatment inside the court and the 8-month delay in the next hearing may be due to his influence of being the former President. His case will be heard in person on December 4 in New York as of now. In the meantime, Trump is free to continue his campaign for a second run for the White House in 2024 because he is not convicted yet.
Why was RaGa sentenced? It was a case of defamation when RaGa remarked, “Why do all these thieves have Modi as their surname? Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi,” while addressing a campaign rally ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Modi is the current Prime Minister’s surname who RaGa had called a “chor” (thief) previously. But it is alleged that his statement defamed the entire Modi community. It should be noted that Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi are living abroad as economic fugitives after defrauding Indian banks.
Trump, on the other hand, is facing charges of violating campaign finance laws. It is alleged that Trump made hush money payments to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election when he was a Presidential candidate. While Trump denies it, his former fixer and personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified under oath that he made the payments to Daniels at Trump’s direction, and pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance violations in connection with the payments in 2018.
Trump’s penchant for seeking delays in legal proceedings with expensive lawyers will delay the litigation until after the Presidential elections in 2024. His lawyers could seek to move the case to federal court, move the trial to a different courthouse elsewhere in New York state, or have the formal accusation dismissed or reduced. Wealthy people may not be above the law but their wealth can afford legal advice to maneuver the litigation process.
What if RaGa’s expulsion from the Parliament is not restored? In that case, he cannot contest in India’s Parliamentary or any elections for 8 years including 2024 and 2029. If so, this will be a big blow to his own political future and will further decimate the INC party whatever is left of it since 2014. In my opinion, RaGa has been a huge liability to Congress but it is beyond me why the senior leaders of that party still tolerate and put him on the pedestal. Are they fearful of his mother Sonia Gandhi who has led the Congress party since her husband Rajiv Gandhi’s death and is worth about $2 billion? She is rich and famous in her own right but it is anyone’s guess how she amassed all that wealth as a politician.
With Parliamentary elections in India about a year from now, RaGa’s continued absence from the Parliament may lead to huge protests and street violence in India. INC party with support from other opposition parties, who are equally fearful of losing the elections in 2024, will join the anti-Modi protests causing devastation, destruction, and deaths. While the Modi government is well prepared to face those challenges but it is not good for the commoners and the country.
Should RaGa get back into the Parliament, he is still a liability for Congress because of his propensity for making unresearched and unrehearsed remarks about Modi and BJP party. His remarks become a laughingstock for the media and often border being plain and simple “stupid.” The other side of his remarks is that an astute politician like Modi gets the ammunition to attack the INC party for 60 years in power under the Nehru dynasty riddled with corruption and scandals. I would rather see RaGa back in the Parliament to save India from the devastation due to street violence and for another 5 years of Modi leadership for India’s continued development.
Will Trump be the chosen Presidential candidate by the Republican party in 2024? Even the political Pundits would refrain from answering the question except “maybe” because we do not know all the contenders yet. Trump has not yet lost his personal appeal and steam. He has a substantial following by conservative Republicans both inside the government and in public. His tweet politics still draws huge response from those willing to support and swear for Trump blindly.
Trump has equal odds to be the Republican party nominee as any of the prospective contenders although he will not be my preferred choice. During his first term, he was everything for himself but not Presidential. He was running the White House more on his whims as a businessperson and less on stable policies with the nation’s interest at the forefront. His “America First” slogan felt good but he went a little too far in protecting America’s interests at the expense of foreign policy.
For me and a substantial number of Americans, his worst came out when he asked his supporters on January 6, 2021, to storm Capitol Hill. America’s democracy was under attack that day and Trump was unwilling to accept the people’s mandate. If Trump gets nominated and wins, I am uncomfortable with his personal tendencies such as ‘my way or highway,’ being self-focused, and not accepting that the country is bigger than an individual like him.
What more about RaGa and Trump? RaGa is by no means a businessperson like the self-made Trump. RaGa is wealthy because he is the only son to inherit the wealth accumulated by his mother. There are many pending litigations against RaGa, and his mother as well as Trump for corrupt practices and/ or twisting laws for personal gains that have led to their wealth accumulation.
On the political front, RaGa has been an MP since 2004 but never acquired the skills as an astute politician to lead the nation as Prime Minister. It is his mother and INC party imagining, aspiring, and pushing him for that role. I hope it never happens because he is a complete misfit for leading India. Trump, on the other hand, rose to the top as President in the first attempt without any political experience and contesting the election. I am still baffled that Trump charmed the American voters to give him the mandate and rejected Hillary Clinton as the first woman in the White House in 2016.
Trump still holds the lone voice to attract the crowd for political rallies. He is quite capable of twisting facts and making his statements believable and thus seeking voters’ attention and support. RaGa alone is highly incapable but he has the complete INC machinery to draw the crowd. He comes from a dynasty of former Prime Ministers including great-grandfather Nehru, grandmother Indira Gandhi, and his father Rajiv Gandhi. RaGa is equally incapable of making a believable political speech because his IQ is exceptionally low, he does not know the facts and has little to nothing that he has done in his 20 years of political career.
It is unfortunate that Sonia Gandhi as the de facto Prime Minister from 2004-2014 was unable to have RaGa as a cabinet member due to his incapabilities as a public figure. RaGa could not rise beyond the shadow of his mother and then came the Modi-led BJP government in 2014. RaGa is no match for an almost corrupt free storm of “development” around the country and India’s continued economic prowess and growing global leadership.
What is the future for RaGa and Trump? While they may not be above the law, their wealth and political influence will remain for the near future. Trump as the probable President in 2024 may get his numerous civil and/ or criminal litigations postponed for going to trial (because a sitting President cannot be tried) but the law will eventually catch up with him.
In India’s current political scenario, I am confident that the INC party will further disintegrate and lose big in the 2024 national elections. RaGa may be allowed to contest and may even win as MP but without any teeth. India’s development storm, the favorable wind for BJP, and the corruption-free strong Modi leadership are too strong to be deflected in the 2024 elections. The longer Modi and BJP remain in power, the lesser the potential for RaGa to remain active in India’s politics let alone lead the country.
Nevertheless, India must remain vigilant against the internal forces of the opposition political parties. They are likely to band together because of the fear of losing in 2024. More importantly, India must guard against the outside money, media, and geopolitics working tirelessly not to let Modi back to power. The known enemies – the Western media, people like George Soros, and neighbors like China and Pakistan – are not to be feared as much as the unknown and behind-the-scenes anti-India forces. For example, the recent undue interference of the U.S. and Germany that are watching the legal proceedings against Rahul Gandhi. Would the U.S. appreciate it if India commented on Trump’s felony charges being a political conspiracy by Democrats?
From my perspective, neither Donald Trump nor Rahul Gandhi is deserving of the political leadership they dream of in their respective countries. For India’s sake, RaGa’s mother and INC will be better off by not dreaming of RaGa as Prime Minister. Perhaps, INC should reorganize and change its name before Modi’s “Congress-Mukta Bharat’ (India without Congress) becomes a reality.
I am not equally certain about the U.S. Presidency in 2024 except already stating enough against Trump as President. I do not favor Biden because age matters. I reluctantly see Kamala Harris as the first woman in the White House but her stature and demeanor do not seem appealing. No other Democrat has surfaced on the political landscape yet.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
 Rahul Gandhi sentenced to 2 years in jail. Here’s what law on disqualification of convicted MPs says – Mar 23, 2023, India Today
 Trump charged with 34 felony counts in hush-money case, lashes out at DA Alvin Bragg: Recap – Apr 04, 2023, USA Today
 Long List Of Cases Against Rahul Gandhi Filed Across India. See Details – Mar 24, 2023, NDTV
 Donald Trump’s docket: All the legal cases and investigations Trump faces including felony charges in New York – Apr 05, 2023, Business Insider
PGurus is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with all the latest news and views
For all the latest updates, download PGurus App.
- RaGa invents “mediocre” Modi - June 1, 2023
- The Parliament, President, and Prime Minister - May 24, 2023
- Political Future of Rahul Gandhi, former Member of Parliament, and Donald Trump, former President - April 10, 2023