NCP supremo Sharad Pawar came out in support of Rahul Gandhi on Thursday, saying his conviction in a criminal defamation case was an attempt to "suppress the voice" of opposition leaders.
Pawar also drew parallels between the conviction of Gandhi and NCP leader and former Lok Sabha member from Lakshadweep P P Mohammed Faizal, who was disqualified from the lower house after his conviction in an attempt-to-murder case.
"I express my serious concerns at the attempts to curtail fundamental rights, freedom of speech and democratic expression in the country. The repeated attempts to suppress the voice of political parties, leaders and citizens of India is a matter of grave concern," Pawar said.
"Today's judgment of Rahul Gandhi underscores the point. NCP MP P P Mohammed Faizal's case is also a similar case in point. I deplore this new trend in our political landscape, which should concern everyone in today's scenario," the Rajya Sabha member said.
Faizal was disqualified as member of the Lok Sabha within two days of his conviction on January 11.
The disqualification was not revoked even after Faizal appealed to the Kerala High Court for a stay on his conviction and sentence, which the high court suspended on January 25.
On Thursday, a trial court in Gujarat sentenced Gandhi to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his "why all thieves have Modi surname" remark. The Lok Sabha member too faces the risk of disqualification.
The Surat court has granted Gandhi bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court. The Congress said Gandhi will file an appeal against the verdict.
-With PTI Input