Following the court verdict that sentenced Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to two years of jail in a defamation case, the Congress decided to take to the streets to protest Rahul Gandhi's conviction and will meet President Droupadi Murmu along with other parties today.
The main opposition party announced a mass agitation on Thursday immediately after Rahul Gandhi was convicted by a Surat court in a defamation case and said it will not just fight the case legally but also politically.
In Karnataka, Congress state president DK Shivakumar and other party leaders and workers who were protesting, were detained by the police.
#WATCH | Bengaluru: Karnataka police detained Congress state president DK Shivakumar and other party leaders and workers who were protesting against the Surat Court verdict against Rahul Gandhi. pic.twitter.com/cY98sFDg1Z— ANI (@ANI) March 24, 2023
A court in Surat in Gujarat on Thursday sentenced Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his “why all thieves have Modi surname” remarks.
The court in Gujarat's Surat noted that the seriousness of his crime increased because a speech delivered by a Member of Parliament has a "very wide impact on the public."
Following the court verdict, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge convened a meeting of senior party leaders and MPs at his residence where it was decided that a protest would be staged at Vijay Chowk on Friday.
The opposition parties have also sought time from President Droupadi Murmu on Friday afternoon to raise the matter with her.
Ramesh said the meeting at Kharge's residence lasted around two hours and it was decided that the party president would hold a meeting with all state unit chiefs and Congress Legislature Party leaders and plan agitations in states.
"We will hold protests across Delhi and in other states on Monday on this issue," Ramesh said.
It is just not a legal issue, but also a serious political matter linked with the future of democracy in the country, he said.
"This is another major example of the Modi government's politics of vendetta, threat and intimidation. We will fight it legally as well as politically. We will not bow down or be intimidated by such politics and will turn this into a major political issue," Ramesh said.
How did the Congress party react?
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.
Gandhi, who was present in the court when the verdict was pronounced, reacted later by quoting Mahatma Gandhi in a tweet in Hindi about truth and non-violence.
"My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God, (and) non-violence is the means to get it. -- Mahatma Gandhi,'' the Congress leader tweeted.
मेरा धर्म सत्य और अहिंसा पर आधारित है। सत्य मेरा भगवान है, अहिंसा उसे पाने का साधन।— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 23, 2023
- महात्मा गांधी
In a separate tweet, he paid tributes to freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru on their martyrdom day, saying they have learnt to fight fearlessly for the country holding on to truth and courage from these brave sons of Mother India.
भगत सिंह, सुखदेव और राजगुरु को शहीद दिवस पर सादर नमन!— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 23, 2023
सच और हिम्मत का दामन थाम, देश के लिए बेख़ौफ़ लड़ते जाना, भारत मां के इन्हीं वीर सपूतों से सीखा है।
With the court convicting the Congress leader and his disqualification from Lok Sabha becoming a possibility, party president Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that the BJP-led government wants to get him removed from the Lower House of Parliament through disqualification as he speaks the truth and exposes it.
(With PTI Inputs)