Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Rahul Gandhi’s MP status uncertain after conviction in defamation case

  • Published
    19 minutes ago

About sharing

Image source, Getty Images

Uncertainty prevails over India’s senior opposition leader Rahul Gandhi’s status as a lawmaker after he was sentenced to two years in prison in a criminal defamation case.

The verdict delivered by a local court in Gujarat state on Thursday could lead to his disqualification as an MP.

Mr Gandhi’s Congress has termed the verdict “erroneous and unsustainable”.

On Friday, the party led opposition leaders in a protest march in the capital Delhi.


The party says it plans more protests over the issue in the coming days.

Mr Gandhi was convicted on Thursday for his 2019 comments about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname at an election rally.

He remains on bail for 30 days and has said he will appeal the verdict.

But the court’s order puts Mr Gandhi’s membership of the legislature in jeopardy. A 2013 Supreme Court order says that a lawmaker convicted in a crime and sentenced to two or more years in jail stand disqualified from the parliament with immediate effect.

If disqualified, Mr Gandhi will not be allowed to contest elections until his sentence is suspended or he is acquitted in the case.

National elections are due in India next year.

The Congress party has said Mr Gandhi is being targeted for exposing the government’s “dark deeds”.

Senior party leader Jairam Ramesh called the verdict a “very serious political issue” that could affect “the future of our democracy”.

“This is a great example of Modi government’s politics of vengeance, politics of threats, politics of intimidation and politics of harassment,” he said after a party meeting on Thursday.

Ministers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, criticised Mr Gandhi and his party for questioning the verdict.

Federal labour minister Bhupender Yadav said Mr Gandhi had insulted members of the caste grouping known as Other Backward Classes (OBC) under which the name “Modi” falls.

“Insulting any surname is not freedom of speech,” he said.

But India’s former law minister Kapil Sibal, who quit the Congress party last year, called the court’s decision “bizarre”.

He also said Mr Gandhi’s comments were directed at “an individual” and not a community.

In his reaction to Thursday’s verdict, Mr Gandhi tweeted a quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God, non-violence the means to get it.”

Several opposition parties have came out in support of Mr Gandhi. Leaders of the parties, along with Congress, plan to meet with President Droupadi Murmu at her official residence to discuss the matter.

On Friday, Congress was also among 14 parties who approached the Supreme Court, alleging that the federal government was misusing investigating agencies to target BJP’s opponents.

BBC News India is now on YouTube. Click here to subscribe and watch our documentaries, explainers and features.

Presentational grey line

Read more India stories from the BBC:

Presentational grey line

You May Also Like

European Union

After a Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine was detained, U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi announced that the man responsible has been released....


For many years we have seen how the Soft Power used by the Kremlin works exclusively through culture, exhibitions, musical groups presentations, etc. It...


The Azerbaijani diaspora, which numbers some 60 million people around the world has entered the virtual social media battle being waged between Armenia and...

United States

The body of the stone dealer had been decaying for several weeks by the time it was found in an Upper West Side apartment....