India's Rahul Gandhi disqualified as lawmaker: Parliament

"Rahul Gandhi... stands disqualified from the member of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction," the notice said


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AFP file
AFP file

Published: Fri 24 Mar 2023, 1:08 PM

Last updated: Fri 24 Mar 2023, 3:33 PM

The Congress party on Friday came down heavily at the Centre over the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi as a Lok Sabha member, calling it a "strangulation of democracy" while exuding confidence that the disqualification will be revoked through a stay on his conviction by a higher court.

The party alleged that Rahul's disqualification is part of a "pattern" to stop him from speaking out against the Central government and also an attempt to divert public attention from real issues.

Gandhi was disqualified as a member of the Lower House earlier on Friday, a day after his conviction by the Surat court in a defamation case for a remark using the 'Modi surname' at a rally in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in the national capital, Congress national spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi and senior leader Jairam Ramesh lashed out at the Centre over the disqualification of the former national party president.

"The issue before us is political, more than it is legal. It is a political issue because it signifies the systematic, repetitive emasculation of democratic institutions by the ruling party. It signifies the strangulation of democracy itself. We know that defamation is an exception to free speech, but over the last several years, we have had repeated examples of unthinkable assaults on freedom of speech, more importantly, freedom after speech. We all know that Rahul Gandhi has been speaking fearlessly inside and outside Parliament. He is paying a price for it," Singhvi said.

He said that the government is resorting to new methods to "throttle" Rahul Gandhi's voice.

"This government is rattled because he clearly speaks with facts and figures on demonetisation. Be it the supposed clean chit to China, or the GST, he is consistently aggressive and open in his questioning. Therefore this government is finding new techniques of throttling his voice," Ramesh alleged.

On the severe criticism by the BJP following Rahul Gandhi's remarks on Indian democracy in the UK recently, Singhvi said the Congress leader is not entitled to speak freely on grounds of "fake and imaginary nationalism".

"Rahul Gandhi goes abroad, he is not entitled to speak freely on grounds of fake nationalism, created imaginary nationalism. He comes back and his speeches abroad become the basis of action against him inside Parliament. All of this is part of a pattern to stop him (from speaking out against this government), to divert public attention from the real and burning issues before the nation today. It is also intended to create a fear psychosis among those who dare to question this government," he said.

Singhvi said Rahul will emerge victorious in the higher court in the defamation case.

"We are confident that we will get a stay on his conviction, which will, in turn, remove the very basis of this disqualification. We have full faith in the law. We believe we will emerge victorious in the near future," he said.


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