Congress said it will hold day-long ‘Satyagraha’ in solidarity with party leader Rahul Gandhi who held his first press conference on Saturday since his disqualification from Lok Sabha. Gandhi, in a bold statement, refused to apologise for his remarks made in the UK and said he would continue to defend democracy.
The BJP dismissed Gandhi’s claim of Prime Minister Narendra Modi being “scared" of Gandhi’s speech in the Parliament over the Asani issue and stated that the disqualification move was due to his defamatory remarks made in 2019 which “insulted" Modi and the OBC community.
Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha on Friday, a day after a Gujarat court convicted him in a 2019 defamation case. The disqualification will bar the 52-year-old four-time MP, from contesting polls for eight years unless a higher court stays his conviction.
Here’re the top updates on Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification
- Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, in a press conference, asserted confidence and stated “Disqualify me for life, put me inside jail, I will keep going. I will not stop."
- He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being “scared" and said: “I have been disqualified because the prime minister is scared of my next speech. I have seen it in his eyes. So he is terrified of the next speech that is going to come and does not want that speech to be in Parliament."
- “I am here defending the democratic voice of the Indian people, I will continue to do that. I am not scared of these threats, of these disqualifications, allegations, prison sentences. I am not scared of them. These people don’t understand me yet, I am not scared of them," he said.
- Refusing demands made by the BJP, including Union Ministers in the Parliament, calling him to apologise for his democracy under attack comments in London, UK, Gandhi said: “My name is not Savarkar, my name is Gandhi, Gandhi does not offer an apology to anyone."
- Gandhi said when he asked the Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla to allow him to speak in the parliament, the latter rejected his request and asked him to have a cup of tea with him. “I went to the Speaker sir’s chamber and asked why he was not allowing me to speak. He smiled and said that he can’t allow that. He then asked me to have a cup of tea with him," he was quoted as saying.
- Rahul Gandhi claimed that he never sought foreign intervention in his remarks made in the UK and accused Union ministers of “lying" against him in Parliament. He said he wanted to respond to them but was not allowed. “My speech made in Parliament was expunged, and later I wrote a detailed reply to the Lok Sabha Speaker. Some ministers lied about me, that I sought help from foreign powers. But there is no such thing I have done. I will not stop asking questions, I will keep questioning the relationship between PM Modi and Adani," he said.
- “They got into panic mode that the truth will come out. They have handed over the biggest weapon to the Opposition because people have a question on their mind… and question is why is the prime minister saving this corrupt person," Gandhi alleged. He alleged that for the BJP-led government, “country is Adani and Adani is country".
भाजपा कह रही है, अडानी पर आक्रमण देश पर आक्रमण है।उनके लिए देश अडानी है और अडानी देश है।
आखिर प्रधानमंत्री अडानी को बचाने में अपनी पूरी शक्ति क्यों लगा रहे हैं?!
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 25, 2023
- The Congress leader also thanked Opposition parties for extending support to him and asserted that going forward, all of them will work together.
- Asked about the defamation case in which he was convicted, Gandhi said it is a legal matter he will not comment on it.
BJP Hits Back
- BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad rubbished the contention that Gandhi’s conviction in a defamation case and his subsequent disqualification were linked to the latter raising the Adani Group issue and said the move was due to his conviction for his defamatory remarks made in 2019.
- Prasad alleged that Congress did not press its battery of lawyers in service to immediately obtain a stay on Gandhi’s conviction by a Gujarat court with a view to “encashing" the issue in the upcoming assembly polls in Karnataka.
- “We are not here to hold brief for Adani. But Gandhi has sought to mislead the people to link his disqualification with Adani. He has been disqualified because of conviction in a case that relates to defamatory remarks he made in 2019." he said.
- The former union minister also charged Gandhi with insulting OBCs and said the BJP will launch a stir against Gandhi for “insulting" OBC community. “(The issue) will be taken up in all earnestness by the BJP across the country," he said.
- Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said Gandhi was not disqualified by the BJP-led government at the Centre and the move was due to his “unparliamentary, defamatory" words and case against him in the court. “Rahul Gandhi has not been disqualified by the GoI. He has been convicted by the court because in his speech he used unparliamentary, defamatory words against the OBC community. As a consequence of the pronouncement of the Court, he has been disqualified," he said.
- Union Minister Anurag Thakur dismissed Congress’s allegations of “political" motives behind Gandhi’s disbarment and said elected representatives automatically stand disqualified the “moment they are convicted by Hon. court to jail for two or more years."
- Attacking the grand old party for “not checking the rules" before blaming the government, Thakur said the Congress is “brazenly defending their hatred for OBC which caused his conviction thus showing utter disrespect towards judiciary and people,"
RG is a case of political immaturity, losing whatsoever little trust left, for gimmicks and cheap popularity. 3/5— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) March 25, 2023
- Terming Gandhi as a “case of political immaturity," he said the leader is “losing whatsoever little trust left, for gimmicks and cheap popularity."
- Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde said the law under which Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified as an MP was enacted by the Congress-led UPA government.
- Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, in a debate in the Assembly, claimed Rahul Gandhi has insulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the OBC community and Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar and should be “punished".
- “Rahul Gandhi has been convicted and stands automatically disqualified as a member of Lok Sabha. But he continues to insult V D Savarkar by saying that he is not Savarkar to apologise. Who does he think he is? He must be punished," Shinde said.
- “Savarkar is a patriot. Why insult a patriotic person? Maharashtra will not tolerate the insult of PM Modi and Savarkar. People will not let him (Rahul Gandhi) move on the streets of Maharashtra," he said.
Congress Plans ‘Sankalp Satyagraha’
- Congress announced a day-long ‘Sankalp Satyagraha’ on Sunday, which will begin at 10 AM and end at 5 PM, in solidarity with Rahul Gandhi in front of Gandhi statues at all states and district headquarters to protest against his disqualification from the Lok Sabha.
- Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will stage the satyagraha at Raj Ghat in the national capital.
- Party workers in West Bengal held demonstrations for the second day against Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification with around 50 Youth Congress members were seen assembling near the Raj Bhavan gate, holding placards in hand. The police detained dozens of supperts briefly and released later in the day, according to reports.
Congress Protests, BJP Hold Counter-stir
- In Maharashtra’s Thane city, the Congress held demonstrations against Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification, near the statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.
- The BJP staged a protest at the same venue against Gandhi. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena held separate demonstrations nearby over his remark that allegedly hurt the sentiments of the Other Backward Class (OBC).
- In Kerala’s Wayanad, an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was burned by Congress workers and its youth and student wings.
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