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Lok Sabha Speaker Disqualifies Rahul Gandhi; Cong Says Will Fight 'Legally and Politically'

Following disqualification, Gandhi will not be able to contest elections for 8 years unless a higher court stays his conviction and sentence.
Image Courtesy: PTI

Image Courtesy: PTI

New Delhi: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from Lok Sabha on Friday, a day after he was convicted by a Surat court in a 2019 criminal defamation case.

Announcing his disqualification, the Lok Sabha Secretariat in a notification said that it was effective from March 23, the day of his conviction.

"Consequent upon his conviction by the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat...Rahul Gandhi, Member of Lok Sabha representing the Wayanad Parliamentary Constituency of Kerala stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction i.e. 23 March, 2023," the notification read.


Courtesy: Bar & Bench

The court in Surat sentenced on Thursday Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail in a defamation case, filed on a complaint by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi for his alleged remark, "How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?"

Following his disqualification, Rahul Gandhi would not be able to contest elections for eight years unless a higher court stays his conviction and sentence.

Reacting to Gandhi's disqualification, the Congress said it will fight the battle both "legally and politically".

"We will not be intimidated or silenced. Instead of a JPC into the PM-linked Adani MahaMegaScam Rahul Gandhi stands disqualified. Indian Democracy Om Shanti," Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a tweet.

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said he was stunned by the action against Gandhi and by its rapidity. "This is politics with the gloves off and it bodes ill for our democracy," Tharoor said in a tweet.

Defending Gandhi's disqualification, Union Minister of State for Law and Justice S P S Baghel termed it as "lawful" and asserted that "everyone is equal before law".

Union minister Bhupender Yadav hit out at the Congress for raising questions on a Gujarat court order, asking if they consider themselves above the law of the land.

Yadav, a prominent OBC face of BJP, noted that the court convicted Gandhi following due process of law but the Congress leader and his party are not able to accept the verdict due to their “arrogance”.

BJP indulging in caste politics: Kharge Slams Nadda

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Friday refuted BJP chief J P Nadda's allegation that Rahul Gandhi compared OBC communities to thieves and accused the ruling party of indulging in "caste politics".

Amid a political fight between the BJP and the Congress following Gandhi's conviction in a defamation case over the "Modi surname" remarks, Nadda alleged that "lies, personal slander and negative politics is integral" to his politics.

"By comparing OBC communities to thieves, Rahul Gandhi has shown a pathetic and casteist mindset. However, his latest tirade is not surprising. For the last many years, he has always reduced levels of political discourse," Nadda said.

Hitting back, Kharge, in a tweet in Hindi, said, "Modi government cannot escape from JPC! Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, and Mehul Choksi fled with the money of PNB and the public. OBCs did not do so, then how were they insulted?"

"SBI/LIC suffered losses due to your 'best friend'!" he said slamming the government.

"'Ek toh chori mein sahyog phir jatigat rajneeti ka prayog' (First providing help in stealing then applying caste politics)," Kharge said and termed it "shameful".

In Bihar, Mahagathbandhan MLAs, bar JD-U, protest conviction

In Patna, members of the ruling Mahagathbandhan in Bihar, barring Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), on Friday staged a march inside the Vidhan Sabha premises in protest against the conviction of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, by a Gujarat court, in a defamation case.

RJD, Congress, CPI (ML) Liberation, CPI, CPI(M) and former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) took part in the march.

The MLAs alighted from their vehicles at the main gate and marched towards the assembly hall, a few hundred metres away, raising slogans like 'Modi hatao, desh bachao' (dethrone Modi, save the country) and holding banners and placards.

"The court should rethink its judgement. Rahul Gandhi has not defamed anybody in particular by his caustic utterances about a surname that were made in far-off Karnataka. I do not wish to cast any aspersions in the judiciary but it is also true that people get away by making horrific statements like calling for the rape of corpses by digging graveyards," said Manjhi.

When asked about JD(U)'s stance, its chief spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said, "It is wrong to draw a conclusion that we have a divergent view and there is any problem, on this account, in the Mahagathbandhan."

"I am a member of the legislative council. The march was staged by members of the Assembly and I am not sure how well the coordination was on this matter. But it will be preposterous to draw a conclusion that it has anything to do with the alleged prime ministerial ambitions of our leader Nitish Kumar," he said.

Maharashtra Assembly: Opposition Stages Walkout

Mumbai: The Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on Friday staged a walkout to protest the disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as a member of the Lok Sabha.

“We condemn the decision to disqualify Rahul Gandhi as a member of the Lok Sabha. We decided to walk out in protest,” said senior Congress leader Nana Patole.

The Opposition members, including MLAs from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena (UBT), then protested on the stairs of Vidhan Bhavan.

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