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Rahul Gandhi: What Will be Congress' Future and Will the Events Provide a 'Silver Lining' for Party?

Curated By: Vidushi Sagar


Last Updated: March 27, 2023, 11:24 IST

New Delhi, India

Rahul Gandhi holds a news conference, after he was disqualified as MP. Reuters

Rahul Gandhi holds a news conference, after he was disqualified as MP. Reuters

Explained: From a sustained protest to a political introspection, a look at what the Congress may do after Rahul Gandhi's disqualification and conviction

Congress workers across state have been protesting the conviction of party leader Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case and his subsequent disqualification as a Lok Sabha MP. While there has been much speculation on the future course the Grand Old Party will take, questions are also being raised on why the leader has not appealed against his conviction yet.

Sources told CNN-News18 that the Congress has yet to file an appeal in court against the conviction because his legal team was translating the order copy from Gujarati, “which takes time." “The delay is procedural, the order copy is being translated from Gujarati which is taking time. There will be a detailed response soon,” the sources said.

Meanwhile, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has talked about the ‘silver lining’ in the series of events, which he says has created an ‘opposition unity’. He told NDTV, “we have seen regional parties in opposition that in each of their states has regarded the Congress as an opponent, actually come out and stand by our side."

He pointed to AAP convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal coming out in support of Gandhi, along with West Bengal CM and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, and her Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekhar Rao.

But it remains to be seen what course the Congress may take in the future. Let’s explore some of the possibilities:

Legal Options

There are some legal measures that can be taken by Gandhi’s team against his conviction. While they have not yet appealed against the conviction, the Congress leader’s lawyers had argued for a lesser punishment claiming there was no intention to insult anyone, sources had informed CNN-News18. They had also said that the magistrate’s order was “ridden with errors", which might explain why there has been a delay on the party’s side in legal action against the judgement.

The leader can move a sessions court or higher, or seek a stay on his conviction through appeal. Read the legal options available to Rahul in detail

Against Disqualification

With regards to his disqualification, a past judgement may provide some insight: in the historic 2013 judgement in ‘Lily Thomas v Union of India,’ the Supreme Court declared Section 8(4) of the Representation of People’s Act unconstitutional, adding that this means that simply filing an appeal will not suffice; instead, the convicted MP must get a particular order of stay against the trial court’s conviction. Read more here

Sustained Protest

The Congress, which has been riding high on its protests, including the recently concluded ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, may choose to sustain its agitation against the BJP, which it blames for the ‘subversion of democracy.’ For now, party members have been holding ‘satyagrahas’ in various states against the ruling party. Whether the agitations sustain or fizzle out would depend on the legal, as well as political route the party decides to embark upon.

A supporter of Congress party attends a torch rally held by party supporters after Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as an MP, in New Delhi. REUTERS/ Anushree Fadnavis

Truly a Silver Lining?

Political commentators are also speculating about whether the conviction could prove good for the party. This could either be through means of an image change for Rahul, or the Congress shedding its old ways and ‘big brother’ attitude while forming alliances, said a report by India Today.

On Friday, a day after Rahul’s conviction, 14 parties filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging the alleged abuse of the ED and the CBI. The report argues that if Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge could hold his own, coalition negotiations with non-BJP parties would be more effective.

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    The report further suggests the possibility of a fresh beginning for Priyanka Gandhi. “Apart from the endless comparisons of her appearance and haircut to her grandmother, Indira Gandhi, there’s no doubting that she speaks well and works hard," the report says, adding that if she took the lead the BJP could lose its opponent in Rahul.

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    first published:March 27, 2023, 11:21 IST
    last updated:March 27, 2023, 11:24 IST