Rahul Gandhi: India’s parliament disqualifies opposition leader

Rahul Gandhi: India’s parliament disqualifies opposition leader

Rahul Gandhi, leader of India’s Congress party, has been disqualified from sitting as a Member of Parliament a day after a court found him guilty of defamation and sentenced him to two years in prison.

“Shri Rahul Gandhi, Member of Lok Sabha representing the Wayanad Parliamentary constituency of Kerala, stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction,” a parliamentary notification on Friday said.

Gandhi, 52, was convicted on Thursday over a 2019 speech in which he referred to many thieves having the surname Modi. The court granted him bail immediately and suspended his sentence for a month.

His remarks created a furore and a criminal defamation case against him was filed by a legislator from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in his home state of Gujarat.

The complainant, Purnesh Modi, said the remarks defamed the entire Modi community. The surname is common in the western state.

Gandhi’s disqualification means he may have to vacate his official residence and will not be allowed to enter the Lok Sabha — the lower house of the Parliament. He could also be barred from running for election for at least eight years.

Shashi Tharoor, a senior Congress MP, questioned the haste with which the opposition leader was disqualified.

“I’m stunned by this action and by its rapidity, within 24 hours of the court verdict and while an appeal was known to be in process,” Mr Tharoor said.

“This is politics with the gloves off and it bodes ill for our democracy.”

Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress president, said the party’s leadership would meet to discuss their next actions.

“We will fight this battle both legally and politically, we will not be intimidated or silenced,” said Jairam Ramesh, a Congress leader.

Congress supporters have been staging protests against Gandhi’s conviction and several were arrested by the police at the party headquarters in New Delhi on Friday.

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