Published23 minutes ago
Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has been sentenced to two years in prison in a criminal defamation case.
Mr Gandhi was convicted by the court in Gujarat state for 2019 comments about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname during an election rally.
He will not go to jail immediately – he has been given bail for 30 days and can file an appeal against his conviction.
The Congress party MP was present in court for sentencing, which comes a year before general elections are due.
Speaking at an election rally in Karnataka state ahead of the 2019 general election, Mr Gandhi had asked why all thieves have “Modi” as a common surname – according to media reports from the time, he was referring to fugitive diamond tycoon Nirav Modi and former Indian Premier League chief Lalit Modi.
The case was filed on the basis of a complaint by Purnesh Modi, a lawmaker from India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party, who said that Mr Gandhi’s comments had defamed the entire Modi community.
Mr Gandhi’s lawyers had argued that the right legal procedures had not been followed in the case. They also said that Narendra Modi should have been the complainant as Purnesh Modi was not the target of Mr Gandhi’s speech.
The Congress party tweeted that Mr Gandhi will file an appeal and “we will fight and win”.
Mr Gandhi has not commented publicly yet but has tweeted a quote in Hindi from Mahatma Gandhi: “My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God, and non-violence the means to get it.”