The Congress on Friday announced a nationwide agitation against Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from Lok Sabha, alleging that the government acted with lightning speed to "gag" him, and called for taking forward the opposition unity in a systematic manner.
Soon after Gandhi's disqualification by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, 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 has 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.
"Yes, there was a consensus that we should now take the job of building opposition unity in a systematic way. Every day Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has been meeting floor leaders of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. So we are coordinating in Parliament and now coordination has to be outside Parliament," 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.
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.