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Rahul Gandhi's challenge to Surat court order ready amid BJP's ‘deliberate delay’ charge

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 29-03-2023 Poulomi Ghosh

Rahul Gandhi will file the plea challenging the Surat court's conviction in the 2019 defamation case in a day or two, news agency PTI reported citing sources. The Surat court on March 23 convicted Rahul Gandhi for his 2019 comment 'how come all thieves have Modi surname in common' and sentenced him to two years imprisonment. The conviction led to Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from the Lok Sabha triggering a political kerfuffle. The BJP alleged that Rahul Gandhi's legal team did not show enough promptness to challenge the court order as the party was aiming to capitalise on this ahead of the Karnataka election. Questions were raised that there was immediate action when Congress leader Pawan Khera was arrested but not after Rahul Gandhi's conviction. Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday said the legal team was working on it. "We know where to appeal. We know when to appeal as we have 30 days' time. Rest is being looked after by the legal team. BJP's allegations are baseless," Jairam Ramesh said.

The sentence of two-year imprisonment has been suspended for 30 days before which Rahul Gandhi has to appeal against the conviction. If the conviction is stayed by a higher court, Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from the Lok Sabha can be revoked.

The Congress has announced a month-long protest programme bringing all the opposition parties together in its fight to 'save democracy'. Several meetings of the opposition parties have been convened by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge after Rahul Gandhi's disqualification. 19 opposition parties are now on board with the Congress.

Rahul Gandhi's disqualification comes with his Wayanad seat falling vacant and necessitating a bypoll. But the Election Commission on Wednesday said it was in no hurry to announce Wayanad bye-election as Rahul Gandhi has one month to appeal against the court order. "There is no hurry, we will wait. There is no hurry to do it before exhausting that particular remedy which the trial court had accorded. We will take a call after that," Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said at a press conference.

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