Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the opposition Congress party, was found guilty of defamation on Friday, but India’s top court delayed the verdict, allowing him to run in the upcoming national elections.
In a lawsuit initiated by a politician from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the western state of Gujarat, Gandhi was found guilty in March for remarks he made in 2019 that were considered offensive to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others with the same name, including the congressman.
Why does everyone who steals go by the name Modi? Gandhi posed the question in a speech during the election campaign, mentioning two wanted businessmen with the last name Modi.
Gandhi, 53, who comes from a family that has produced three prime ministers for India, was handed a two-year prison term, but it was suspended and he was released bail.
Because MPs are immediately prohibited from holding office after receiving sentences of two years or more, he also lost his parliamentary seat as a result of the conviction. The lower house of parliament should now formally reinstate Gandhi in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.
Gandhi had requested that the conviction be suspended, but lower courts and the high court in Gujarat, where the BJP is in power, had denied his requests. As a result, Gandhi appealed to the Supreme Court. Gandhi has pushed for both the conviction’s reversal and suspension. The Gujarat lower court has yet to hear that challenge.
“No matter what, my duty is still the same. Gandhi made his first comments following the court decision in a tweet on social networking site X, formerly known as Twitter. “Protect the idea of India,” he urged.
Truth wins out whether it is now, tomorrow, or the next day. But my future is clear, whatever happens,” he subsequently assured reporters at a party press conference. But he refused to answer questions.
The lower court’s decision to impose the maximum term of two years in prison and exclude him from serving in parliament, according to Supreme Court Justice B.R. Gavai, was made without citing any justifications.
Despite the fact that Gandhi’s remarks on Modi were “not in good taste,” his conviction punished not only him but also the voters who had chosen him to represent them.
At the party headquarters in New Delhi, Congress members erupted in jubilation, yelled slogans, waved enormous party flags, and lit fireworks.
Gandhi waved to the jubilant supporters as he entered the party headquarters with his sister, Priyanka Vadra. After being disqualified, Gandhi was forced to move out of his official apartment and into the home of his mother, Sonia Gandhi, a politician.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress in the lower house of parliament, claimed he and other Congressmen met with the speaker and asked for Gandhi’s restoration so he could participate in a no-trust motion opposition parties have brought against Modi’s administration.
According to Chowdhury, Rahul Gandhi has been absolved of the bogus accusations leveled against him. This is the truth’s victory, but it will be expensive.
The opposition parties suffered a setback a year before the legislative elections as a result of Gandhi’s disqualification from parliament, which was only the second in history.
It inspired the opposition to unite in the “INDIA” (Indian National Developmental Inclusive coalition), a coalition of 26 parties, to fight the BJP in 2024.
The coalition also introduced a no-trust motion against Modi’s administration for what it claims is the latter’s failure to address ethnic conflicts in Manipur, a state in northeastern India, where at least 180 people have died since May 3. The proposal will be discussed in parliament on August 8 and Modi will likely respond on August 10 before it is put to a vote.
If he is reinstated by then as anticipated, Gandhi will be a significant speaker during the debate.
The vote poses no threat to the stability of the BJP government because it has a solid majority in parliament. However, it is viewed as a chance for the opposition to win some political ground.
In addition, despite high unemployment and uneven growth, Modi continues to enjoy significant support, and the BJP is the heavy favorite to win a third term thanks to its welfare and Hindu nationalist program. The BJP did not immediately respond to the court’s decision.
Purnesh Modi, the Gujarat politician who raised objections to Gandhi’s speech, stated, “We will fight the battle legally during the case’s trial…on behalf of the Modi community.”