Rahul Gandhi Expelled From Parliament, Opposition Leaders Across India Lash Out
NEW DELHI (IANS) – Hours after being expelled from the Parliament following his conviction in a criminal defamation case, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted on March 24: “I am fighting for India’s voice… Ready to pay any price,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted even as huge protests broke out at various places in Kerala’s Wayanad the Lok Sabha constituency he represents.
It is one of the highest profile disqualifications of a sitting legislator in India.Gandhi won the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with a record 64.67 per cent of the polled votes and the margin of victory was a staggering 4.31 lakh votes over his nearest rival from the Communist Party of India.
Several opposition politicians reacted harshly to the news. “This is politics with the gloves off and it bodes ill for our democracy,” said Shashi Tharoor, adding he was “stunned” by the developments.
UddhavThackerayformer chief minister of Maharashtra state said “calling a thief a thief has become a crime in our country”.
AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal appealed to the people of the country to come forward to save the democracy. He said that the way democracy is being attacked, we all have to come together.”This is not a fight of Rahul Gandhi or Congress, but this is a fight to save the country from a dictator and a less educated person,” he said.
In a move that could lead to political realignments in the coming months, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadavexpressed solidarity with Rahul Gandhi. “Defamation of the country, public defamation, defamation of harmony, defamation of the constitution, defamation of the economy. Do not know how many types of defamation cases should be filed against the BJP. The BJP, which secures its political future by implicating the opposition in minor cases, is scared of the power of the opposition,” he stated.
Setting aside his political differences, Telangana Chief Minister and Bharat Rashtra Samithi President K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Friday condemned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Parliament, calling it the height of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “arrogance and dictatorship”.
“In PM Modi’s New India, opposition leaders have become the prime target of BJP!,” Mamata Banerjee said on social media.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, in a tweet, said: “It’s condemnable that the BJP is now using the criminal defamation route to target opposition leaders and disqualify them as done with @RahulGandhi now. This comes on top of the gross misuse of ED/CBI against the opposition.Resist and defeat such authoritarian assaults”.
Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury announced that she would file a defamation case against Modi since the latter supposedly linked her laughter to ‘Surupanakha’, a demoness in Hindu mythology in a House proceeding.She added: “This classless megalomaniac referred to me as Surupanakha on the floor of the House. I will file a defamation case against him. Let’s see how fast courts will act now.”
Rahul Gandhi was suspended from the Lok Sabha following his conviction in a criminal defamation case. The Lok Sabha Secretariat also declared his constituency in Kerala’s Wayanad as vacant.According to the Representation of the People Act, a lawmaker sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more shall be disqualified “from the date of such conviction” and remain disqualified for another six years after serving prison time.
A day earlier, a court in Surat found Rahul Gandhi guilty and sentenced him to two years in prison in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his remarks about Narendra Modi’s surname. The Congress leader, however, was granted bail and his sentence was suspended for 30 days to allow him to appeal the Surat court verdict.
The case was filed against Rahul Gandhi by BJP MLA and ex-Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi for saying “how come all thieves have the common surname Modi” while campaigning in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.