Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified from the Lok Sabha due to his conviction in a 2019 criminal defamation case. The Lok Sabha Secretariat has also declared his constituency, Wayanad, vacant. Congress has called this a ‘conspiracy’ to silence Rahul Gandhi, who has been questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged relationship with billionaire industrialist Gautam Adani. Rahul Gandhi has been demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the issue.
The court in Gujarat’s Surat sentenced Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail in the case, filed on a complaint by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi for his alleged remark, “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?” The court granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal to a higher court.
The disqualification of Rahul Gandhi has been challenged by Congress leaders who claim that only the President can disqualify MPs in consultation with the Election Commission. The BJP has said that the conviction came from an independent judiciary after Rahul Gandhi insulted the OBC community with his ‘thief’ remark.
Several opposition leaders have expressed shock and targeted the BJP over the decision. Congress units in several states launched simultaneous protests, accusing the Centre of political vendetta. Karnataka police detained Congress state president DK Shivakumar and other party leaders and workers who were protesting against the Surat court verdict against Mr Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi can now challenge the decision in court. If the verdict is not cancelled by any higher court, Rahul Gandhi will not be allowed to contest elections for the next eight years. According to Mr Gandhi’s team, the Congress leader plans to challenge the verdict in a higher court.