New Delhi: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi was on Friday disqualified from Lok Sabha following his conviction by a Surat court in a 2019 criminal defamation case.
The BJP dismissed the charges and termed the disqualification “lawful”.
The disqualification, which will bar Gandhi from contesting polls for eight years unless stayed by a higher court, saw a shift in the dynamics of Opposition ranks with Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi Party also expressing strong support for the embattled leader, along with several other Opposition parties. Announcing his disqualification, the Lok Sabha Secretariat in a notification said that it was effective from March 23, the day of his conviction.
“Consequent upon his conviction by the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat…Rahul Gandhi, Member of Lok Sabha representing the Wayanad Parliamentary Constituency of Kerala stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction i.e. 23 March, 2023,” the notification read.
The court in Surat sentenced on Thursday Gandhi to two years in jail in a defamation case, filed on a complaint by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi for his alleged remark, “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?” Following his disqualification, Gandhi would not be able to contest elections for eight years unless a higher court stays his conviction and sentence.
Hours before the notification was issued, Gandhi attended Lok Sabha proceedings in the morning session. Before the proceedings commenced, he also participated in a meeting of party MPs in the Parliament complex.
Incidentally, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, in 2013, had attempted to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling to set aside an RP Act provision under which a person sentenced to imprisonment of two years or more shall be disqualified “from the date of such conviction” and remain disqualified for another six years after serving time.
Gandhi himself had opposed the ordinance at that time and tore the ordinance in a press conference as a token of protest. (Agencies)