Rahul disqualified; loses MP seat from Wayanad after 2 years jail sentence in ‘Modi surname’ case
In a big development in Indian politics, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from Lok Sabha on Friday, nearly 24 hours after a Surat court convicted him in a defamation case, an action the opposition party slammed as BJP’s “vindictive politics” and vowed to fight legally and politically.
The BJP dismissed the charges and termed the disqualification “lawful“. Announcing his disqualification, the Lok Sabha Secretariat in a notification said following his conviction by the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat, Rahul Gandhi, a Member of Lok Sabha representing the Wayanad constituency of Kerala stands disqualified from the membership of the House from the date of his conviction i.E. 23 March 2023.
The disqualification will bar 52-year-old Gandhi, a four-time MP, from contesting polls for eight years unless a higher court stays his conviction and sentence. The opposition accuses Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla acted on political lines and did not even wait for the outcome in the High Court, as the Magistrate’s Court gave 30 day stay on conviction, allowing Rahul to appeal in higher forms.
The court in Surat sentenced on Thursday Gandhi to two years in jail in a defamation case, filed on a complaint by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi for his remark, “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?” A lawmaker can escape disqualification under the Representation of the People (RP) Act if the jail term, which should be two years or above, and the conviction both are stayed by the appellate court.
Gandhi will have to move an appellate court for relief and subsequently to the Lok Sabha Secretariat to seek restoration of his status as an MP after getting a favourable judicial order in the defamation case.
In his first reaction after disqualification, Rahul Gandhi in a tweet said, “I am fighting for the voice of India. I am ready to pay any price.” While Congress leaders did not speak openly on the consequences of the verdict and disqualification, many leaders in the party feel this will help Rahul Gandhi and the party politically.
The action against Rahul Gandhi also saw a shift in the dynamics of opposition ranks with Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, Bharat Rashtra Samithi, and Samajwadi Party, despite their differences with the Congress, expressing strong support for the embattled leader, along with several other opposition parties. This was Gandhi’s fourth Lok Sabha term. First elected to Lok Sabha in 2004 from Amethi, he represented that constituency for two more terms. In 2019, he lost the Amethi seat to Smriti Irani but managed to win from Wayanad.
Hours before the notification was issued, Gandhi attended Lok Sabha proceedings in the morning session. Before the proceedings commenced, he also participated in a meeting of party MPs in the Parliament complex.
Reacting to Gandhi’s disqualification, the Congress said it was “a black day for Indian democracy” and asserted that the battle will be fought both “legally and politically“. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge alleged the BJP made all efforts to get him disqualified as he was speaking the truth and fighting for the Constitution and people’s rights.
“This was not a question of backward class, Lalit Modi and Nirav Modi are not of backward class. They are trying to build a perception that Rahul Gandhi spoke against the backward class. Gandhi was putting forward the truth before the country so they were not liking it,” he said in an apparent reference to BJP chief J P Nadda’s remarks that Gandhi had compared OBC communities to thieves.
The BJP would think that their problem is solved by ousting him from Lok Sabha, but it is not, as the demand for Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) would continue to be raised, he said. Opposition leaders have been demanding a JPC probe into the Adani issue. “We will keep fighting to protect democracy and even if we have to go to jail, we will do so. Our people are ready to fight,” Kharge said.
Senior Union Ministers and BJP leaders Dharmendra Pradhan and Anurag Thakur hinted that a conspiracy within the Congress might have played a role in its leaders not approaching a higher court for relief for Rahul Gandhi after his conviction on Thursday as it had done in the case of Pawan Khera when they approached a court within hours of the Assam Police arresting him.
“Who are the people within the Congress wanting to get rid of Rahul Gandhi,” Thakur asked, noting that the party has a battery of lawyers and wondering if the former party president was deliberately put on the “wrong path“.
He also said, “Rahul Gandhi is a habitual offender and loose cannon. He thought he could say anything without facing any consequences” and noted that the Congress leader is on bail in seven different cases.
Congress leader’s disqualification also became a rallying point for the Opposition with several parties, including Trinamool Congress, AAP, the Left parties, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray), and NCP, among others, backing the former Congress chief.
West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “In PM Modi’s New India, Opposition leaders have become the prime target of BJP! While BJP leaders with criminal antecedents are inducted into the cabinet, Opposition leaders are disqualified for their speeches. Today, we have witnessed a new low for our constitutional democracy.”
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal condemned Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification and alleged that the BJP wanted to create a situation wherein there is just one party in the country. “The disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha is shocking,” he said and alleged that the way Gandhi was disqualified was an “act of cowardice symbolic of a scared government.”
Strongly condemning the Congress leader’s disqualification, BRS president and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao alleged that the move was the “zenith of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrogance and dictatorial attitude”. “Today is a black day in the history of democracy in India”, he said and alleged that “Modi’srule overshadows the Emergency“.
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The tearing of the ordinance on a public platform which sealed Lalu’s fate has done the same for RaGa. The question he asked his mother 45 years at the time of vacating the Government bungalow ” where are we to go now” he has to ask again. Doing anything for other than the family is not known to this generation otherwise, the party should have been asked to attend the Parliament, debate and contribute to the legislative business of passing the finance bill, while the disqualification and vacating could wait till that was done.
When Chief Justice, lawyers are on your side (except truth), why worry ? Storm in tea cup.
Supreme Court & Lawyers in India are the most morally corrupt.
RAHUL GANDHI SHOULD BE VERY HAPPY, FREE BIRD, LONG HOLIDAY GAP….
Congress party and Sonia family have billions of dollars in Swiss and other banks. we can expect dirty rotten riots, protests and ads every where to create an emergency like situation to divide the community. Supreme court has given bail to sonia Rahul Vadra and chidambaram too. Modi ji will have tough time getting them prosecuted.