The Congress will begin their countrywide protests from tomorrow to show solidarity with its leader Rahul Gandhi who was convicted in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his alleged "Modi surname" remark.
Party MPs will hold a protest in Vijay Chowk, just outside Parliament House, while attempts will also be made to meet President Droupadi Murmu to inform her about the developments, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh told reporters.
VIDEO | Congress leader @Jairam_Ramesh talks to media after a meeting of MPs and senior leaders at party president @kharge's residence. Earlier in the day, a Surat court sentenced Rahul Gandhi to 2 years imprisonment in the 2019 ‘Modi surname’ defamation case. pic.twitter.com/MeD5qjFkXM— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) March 23, 2023
"This is not just a legal issue, it is also a very serious political issue, which is related to 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 further said.
The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma, which held Gandhi guilty under Indian Penal Code sections 499 and 500, also granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court, the Congress leader's lawyer Babu Mangukiya said.
Following the verdict, a political war of words erupted between the BJP and opposition parties, including AAP, which rallied behind the former Congress chief and accused the ruling party of "hatching a conspiracy to eliminate" its political opponents by prosecuting them.
"The verdict was so unfortunate. We are doing a solidarity march in support of Rahul Gandhi ji all over India. Ever since Rahul Gandhi ji started speaking about the Adani scam, the BJP has purposefully been trying to prevent him from speaking about it," said MP K C Venugopal.
The verdict was so unfortunate. We are doing a solidarity march in support of Rahul Gandhi ji all over India.— Congress (@INCIndia) March 23, 2023
Ever since Rahul Gandhi ji started speaking about the Adani scam, the BJP has purposefully been trying to prevent him from speaking about it.
: @kcvenugopalmp Ji pic.twitter.com/rTnWfyrRT4
The Congress claimed that the court verdict was "infirm, erroneous and unsustainable", evoking a sharp reaction from the BJP which slammed it for its criticism of the order, asking whether the opposition party wants "complete freedom" for Gandhi to "abuse" others. The Congress also said that it would challenge the judgement in a higher court.
(With inputs from PTI)