United Opposition takes govt head on over Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification
Setting aside their political differences with the Grand Old Party, leaders of TMC, AAP and SP slam BJP and come out in support of the Congress leader
NEW DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s conviction and the subsequent disqualification from Parliament seems to have given a fresh lease of life to Opposition unity as several parties, including TMC, AAP and SP rallied around the Congress leader.
The most unexpected was the support from TMC, which has been at loggerheads with Congress. In a show of solidarity with Rahul, West Bengal CM and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee said that the country is witnessing a new low for constitutional democracy.
“In PM Narendra Modi’s new India, Opposition leaders have become the prime target of BJP! While BJP leaders with criminal antecedents are inducted into the cabinet. Opposition leaders are disqualified for their speeches. Today, we have witnessed a new low for our constitutional democracy,” she said in a tweet.
In PM Modi’s New India, Opposition leaders have become the prime target of BJP!— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) March 24, 2023
While BJP leaders with criminal antecedents are inducted into the cabinet, Opposition leaders are disqualified for their speeches.
Today, we have witnessed a new low for our constitutional democracy
AAP, a political adversary of Congress, also came out in support of Rahul. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said: “The country has to be saved from an arrogant dictator and illiterate person… Dismissing Rahul Gandhi ji from the membership of the Lok Sabha is a cowardly act. We respect the judiciary, but we do not agree with this judgment...People will have to stand up.”
In a sign of thaw, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav said that the BJP is trying to divert attention from corruption by disqualifying Rahul. “Today the membership of the biggest Congress leader has gone. Many BJP leaders will lose their membership if action is taken against them. This has happened earlier with SP leaders also,” he said.
Political analyst and former Congress leader Sanjay Jha said Rahul’s disqualification will be a lifeline for the Opposition in the run-up to the 2024 elections. "Every Opposition party knows that they will face similar harassment, political intimidation, and abuse of investigating agencies in the same way as Rahul Gandhi. Tomorrow it could be anybody," Jha told this newspaper.
TMC leader Derek O’Brien said that BJP is desperately silencing the voice of the Opposition. "We know they will go to all kinds of lows, but this is the lowest of the lowest," he said.
TMC has been staying away from Opposition meetings and protests. Recently, Mamata and Yadav announced that they will keep an equal distance from Congress and BJP to fight BJP in the 2024 elections. TMC and Congress have locked horns in many states including Goa, Delhi, Tripura and Meghalaya.
Rahul Gandhi’s brush with law
Congress leader and former MP has been fighting many defamation cases filed against him across the country. Here is a lowdown on the cases he is fighting
March 23, 2023: Sentenced to 2 years imprisonment in ‘Modi surname’ defamation case
July 12, 2019: Granted bail by Ahmedabad court in a defamation case filed by Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank after Rahul alleged that the bank was involved in a scam of swapping banknotes during DeMo
July 6, 2019: Granted bail by a Patna court in another defamation case filed by BJP leader Sushil Modi for his comments “all Modis are thieves”
July 4, 2019: Granted bail by a Mumbai court in a case filed by an RSS worker for linking Gauri Lankesh’s killing with “BJP-RSS ideology”; Given bail I15k bond
November 2016: Granted bail by the Bhiwandi court in Maharashtra in a case filed by an RSS worker for his remark that RSS had killed Mahatma Gandhi; SC slammed him for his comment
September 2016: Granted bail by a Guwahati court in a defamation case filed by RSS after Rahul said that he was prevented by the Sangh from entering the Barpeta Satra in Assam in December 2015; given bail on a bond of Rs 50,000
Rahul Gandhi is out on bail in the National Herald case; Granted bail to him and his mother in December 2015 on a personal bond of Rs 50,000
Purnesh Modi: Ex-Min who filed complaint against Rahul
Purnesh Modi, a BJP MLA and a former Gujarat minister, has been hogging the limelight after a Surat court found Rahul Gandhi guilty of criminal defamation. Modi, a three-time MLA from Surat West, belongs to the OBC (Other Backward Classes) community who filed a complaint against Gandhi.
Before starting as an apprentice at a local legal company, he had worked as a daily wage labourer for a brief period. He became a minister in 2021 after Bhupendra Patel reshuffled his cabinet. He held the portfolios of roads and buildings, transport, civil aviation, and tourism and pilgrimage.
Nearly three months before the Gujarat Assembly elections in August 2022, Patel relieved Modi of the important road and infrastructure portfolio. Modi won Surat West in 2022 by a margin of more than one lakh votes. He, however, couldn’t find a berth in the new cabinet.