Congress senior leader Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified as a Member of Parliament a day after he was convicted in a defamation case, filed on a complaint by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi for his alleged remark hinted at the prime minister, where he said, "How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?".
According to the letter of disqualification by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, Rahul Gandhi is effectively removed from his position as the Member of Lok Sabha (MLA) for Wayanad Parliamentary Constituency of Kerala and “stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction i.e. 23 March 2023".
Following his disqualification, Gandhi would not be able to contest elections for eight years unless a higher court stays his conviction and sentence.
The grand old party has reacted strongly to the disqualification, calling it a “conspiracy” for “fighting…to save democracy”.
“Lok Sabha membership of Rahul Gandhi has been terminated. He is continuously fighting for you and this country from the streets to the Parliament, trying everything possible to save democracy. Despite every conspiracy, he will continue this fight at all costs and will take just action in this matter,” the Congress tweeted. “The fight continues,” they said.
Here are some reactions from the political circle:
Senior party MP Jairam Ramesh took to Twitter and said that Congress will not “be afraid or remain silent” because of this decision.
Third-term Thiruvananthapuram MP and senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said he was “stunned” by the action and its “rapidity” while an appeal was in process.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O'Brien criticised the action against Gandhi in a video statement on Twitter. "The BJP are desperate to silence the voice of the opposition...we know they would go to all kinds of lows. But this is the lowest," the TMC leader said.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Supriya Sule has also condemned the action against the Congress leader.
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, while addressing a gathering, criticised the action against the leader. "In PM Modi’s New India, Opposition leaders have become the prime target of BJP! While BJP leaders with criminal antecedents are inducted into the cabinet, Opposition leaders are disqualified for their speeches. Today, we have witnessed a new low for our constitutional democracy," she said.
How has the BJP reacted?
Defending Gandhi's disqualification, Union Minister of State for Law and Justice SPS Baghel has termed it as "lawful" and asserted that "everyone is equal before law". He also noted that a BJP MLA was also recently disqualified in Uttar Pradesh following his conviction in a criminal case.
Union minister Bhupender Yadav, a prominent OBC face of BJP, also hit out at the Congress for raising questions on the Gujarat court order, saying the court convicted Gandhi following due process of law but the Congress leader and his party are not able to accept the verdict due to their “arrogance”.