India opposition leader Rahul Gandhi disqualified as lawmaker
New Delhi, Mar 24 (EFE).– India’s parliament on Friday disqualified opposition leader Rahul Gandhi as a lawmaker, a day after a court found the scion of the once-dominant Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty guilty of defamation and sentenced him to two years in prison.
Gandhi, 52, was convicted on Thursday for asking “why all the thieves” share the Modi surname during a political campaign in April 2019.
He got bail immediately after the court suspended the sentence for a month, giving him time to appeal the verdict.
“Consequent upon his conviction by the court, Rahul Gandhi… stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha,” a parliament notice read.
Gandhi is one of the most powerful politicians of the opposition Indian National Congress (INC) and represented a South Indian constituency in the lower house of the Indian parliament.
The INC said his disqualification as a Lok Sabha member came in response to speaking the truth to the power.
“They’ve done everything they can to disqualify Rahul (Gandhi). He was disqualified for stating the truth in accordance with the ideals of the constitution, defending the constitution, and fighting for the rights of the people,” INC President Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters.
“It does not sit well with them that Rahul Gandhi is presenting the facts to the people. They believe that removing Rahul Gandhi will solve their situation. However, their problem does not stop there.”
Kharge said Congress leaders and workers were ready to court arrest and “sacrifice everything” to safeguard the democracy in India.
“They are doing everything they can to silence those who tell the truth.”
Gandhi had refused to apologize for the alleged remarks, saying his fight against the alleged rising corruption in the country would continue.
Gandhi made the controversial remarks as he canvassed for the last general election in the southern state of Karnataka.
“Why all the thieves, be it Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi or Narendra Modi, have Modi in their names,” the Congress leader allegedly said during the rally, referring to a common surname in western India, especially in Gujarat state.
Gandhi had named diamond magnate Nirav Modi, accused of defrauding a state-run bank of over $2 billion before fleeing to the United Kingdom.
Cricket czar Lalit Modi, who allegedly lives in Britain, is wanted in a money laundering and tax evasion case after allegations that a facilitation fee of $90 million was paid by one company to another for obtaining telecast rights for the Indian Premier League.
The two Modis are not related to each other or the prime minister, even as the Indian National Congress has been relentlessly accusing the federal government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of helping the fugitives escape Indian law.
The sentencing and the subsequent disqualification followed days of protests in the Indian parliament by ruling BJP lawmakers, seeking an apology for Gandhi’s allegedly derogatory comments about India’s democracy in the United Kingdom. EFE