NEW DELHI: In what is being seen as yet another U-turn, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday dramatically declared that he would rather face trial in the Maharashtra court than withdraw or amend his remarks that people of RSS background were behind Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. That this stand, taken before the Supreme Court, was political in nature, the legal ramifications notwithstanding, was admitted by his counsel and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal later in the day.
Without beating about the bush, Sibal admitted that the legal proceedings should be seen in the context of upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and other states. “We said that we will stand by what we said, nothing less and nothing more,” Kapil Sibal said, adding that it was basically a political fight. The Congress’ strategy seems to be to put the ball back in the RSS’ court. Sibal said that the Sangh would now have to clarify if Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s killer, can be called a Hindu. Whether a “true Hindu’’ could ever have assassinated the Mahatma. It was obvious that legal battle was as much over the legacy of Gandhi as it was over the Hindu identity politics and the space from which the BJP has increasingly edged the Congress out.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi told the Supreme Court on Thursday that he stood by every word of his statement on the RSS and was ready to face trial. Months earlier, Rahul had asked the apex court to dismiss the criminal defamation case filed against him for blaming the RSS for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi during an election rally in 2014.
Rahul also refused to yield to the RSS demand for a clarification stating that the organisation had no role to play in the assassination. He stood firm on his claim that he never blamed the RSS as an institution, but only certain people associated with it. “I stand by each and every word. I will never take my words back. I stood by it yesterday, I stand by it today and I will stand by it in future. I am ready to go to trial,” senior advocate Kapil Sibal, Rahul's counsel, told the court.
Rahul expressed his readiness to face trial after the court refused to interfere with criminal proceedings pending against him before a trial court in Maharashtra.
“The matter can be put to an end if Rahul gave another clarificatory statement that he never intended to say RSS was behind the assassination,” said senior counsel U R Lalit, representing the RSS functionary who filed the complaint. “In the given situation, I can agree with his stand if he states that he did not intend to involve the RSS for the offence,” Lalit told the bench.He submitted that such a statement was needed from Rahul, as in the last 60 years, whenever there was an election, the Congress made an attempt to blame RSS for the killing of the Father of the Nation.