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Rahul Gandhi Disqualified: Shinde Attacks Leader Over Savarkar Barb; Cong Plans 'Sankalp Satyagraha' as BJP Holds Counter-stir

News18 25-03-2023 News Desk

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his Savarkar remarks at a press conference on Saturday and said Gandhi must be punished for his comments as “Savarkar is not only Maharashtra's deity but is an idol for the whole country.” Meanwhile, Congress launched nationwide protests against the debarment of the former part chief from Lok Sabha while the BJP-Sena held counter-protests in Maharashtra. Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad vowed protests over Gandhi “insulting” the OBC community.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, in his first press conference since he was disqualified from the Lok Sabha, on Saturday attacked the BJP-led Central government for ‘targeting’ him for questioning the alleged relationship between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and industrialist Gautam Adani. The BJP has dismissed the charges stating Congress leader’s address was “baseless and incoherent.”

“My speech made in Parliament was expunged, and later I wrote a detailed reply to the Lok Sabha Speaker. Some ministers lied about me, that I sought help from foreign powers. But there is no such thing I have done. I will not stop asking questions, I will keep questioning the relationship between PM Modi and Adani,” he said.

The Congress stepped up its campaign and carried out a nationwide agitation on Saturday against Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Lok Sabha.

Former Congress president, Gandhi, was disqualified from Lok Sabha on Friday, a day after he was convicted by a Surat court in a 2019 criminal defamation case for his remark against the ‘Modi surname’. The Congress is planning to take a legal route and approach the court against Gandhi’s conviction in the criminal defamation case and his swift disqualification from the Lower House of Parliament.

Announcing the countrywide stir, the Congress alleged that the government acted with lightning speed to “gag” Gandhi, and called for taking forward the opposition unity in a systematic manner.

As part of the protest against the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from Loksabha, Wayanad District Congress Committee has announced that it will observe ‘Black Day’ today.

Congress Calls For A Coordinated Building Up Of The Opposition

Soon after Gandhi’s disqualification by the Lok Sabha Secretariat on Friday, the Congress leadership got into a huddle at the party headquarters and deliberated on the way forward. Top Congress leaders, including former AICC chief Sonia Gandhi, party president Mallikarjun Kharge, general secretaries Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, K C Venugopal, Jairam Ramesh, Rajiv Shukla and Tariq Anwar, and senior leaders P Chidambaram, Anand Sharma, Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik, Salman Khurshid and Pawan Kumar Bansal among others attended the meeting where the party decided to take this forward into a “Jan Andolan”.

Congress general secretary Ramesh said, “We will go all over the country as Rahul Gandhi was deliberately disqualified for raising his voice against the Modi government on the Adani issue, on the government’s foreign policy and the clean chit given to China for incursions at the border.”

Ramesh said the BJP was rattled by the success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, which, he said, became a movement. The Congress leadership also welcomed the statements of support of all opposition leaders, he said, and asserted that “we should now take the issue of opposition unity forward in a systematic way”.

“It was noted today that many opposition parties have condemned the action taken unilaterally with such lightning speed to disqualify Rahul Gandhi,” he said.

“It is also heartening to note that parties which were not part of this floor coordination have now issued public statements condemning this action of disqualification of Rahul Gandhi,” Ramesh said.

The Congress’ state units and frontal organisations will launch programmes across the country and they will begin from Monday with a countrywide agitation, he said.

“We will go all over the country saying that Rahul Gandhi has been deliberately disqualified as he has been raising his voice against the Modi government on various issues, including demonetisation, GST, foreign policy, and the government’s intentions and policies,” Ramesh said.

‘Understand The Chronology’

Urging people to “understand the chronology”, the Congress leader said nine days after Gandhi’s Adani speech in Lok Sabha on February 7, the defamation case against him was fast-tracked by the complainant, who withdrew his own stay in the high court on February 16.

On February 27, the arguments resumed after a year and on March 17, the judgment was reserved, he said, adding that the verdict was pronounced on March 23. “This is no coincidence,” Ramesh added.

In a tweet later, he said the prime minister was using the G20 to proclaim to the world that India is the ‘Mother of Democracy’.

“That Mother is weeping today at the Murder of Democracy in India,” Ramesh alleged.

Rahul Gandhi’s Conviction and Disqualification

Rahul Gandhi, on Friday, was disqualified as a member of Lok Sabha a day after his conviction in the Modi surname defamation case. The Gandhi scion who represents the Wayanad parliamentary constituency of Kerala was disqualified under provisions of Article 102 (1) (e) of the Constitution of India read with Section 8 of the Representation of the People’s Act.

Rahul was on Thursday sentenced to two years in jail by a Surat court in the 2019 criminal defamation case over his “Modi surname” remark. The case against Rahul was filed on a complaint by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi for his alleged remark, “How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?”

BJP’s Reaction

Reacting to the Congress’ allegations against Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as a Lok Sabha MP, Union Minister Anurag Thakur during a press conference in New Delhi said that Rahul is the “epitome of unparliamentary behaviour” and that today people of Wayanad have got rid of him.

He also said: “A member of the Lok Sabha for so long, from 2009 to 2014. Never been able to ask questions for Amethi in five years. Participated in only 21 debates in all these years. This in itself tells about them. Rahul Gandhi thinks he is above the government, law and people of India.”

“Use of indecent language, work of insulting, speaking bad words… all this had become his habit. He used to think that he can speak anything, without facing any consequences. No one in the country can say anything to you. He considered himself above everything,” the BJP leader added.

In a joint press conference, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said, “Rahul Gandhi has been convicted in a defamation case and sentenced to two-year prison term. As per the law, conviction leads to disqualification from parliament membership.”

He also added, “Congress party, especially Rahul’s family, wants a separate IPC for him. Under this IPC, he shouldn’t be convicted. They want a separate judiciary for him. However, they fail to understand that in a democracy the law is equal for all.”

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