India's Rahul Gandhi disqualified from parliament
Published : Friday, 24 March, 2023 at 4:16 PM Count : 643
India's main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified as a member of parliament, a day after being convicted in a defamation case and sentenced to two years in jail, reports Al Jazeera.
"Rahul Gandhi… stands disqualified from the member of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction," a notice issued by the parliament said on Friday, referring to the lower house.
Gandhi, a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family and former president of the Congress party, will appeal in a higher court, the party said.
'BJP fearful of Gandhi's rise'
Congress officials have described the court order as politically motivated and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of targeting political opponents.
"This battle will be fought both legally and politically," said Congress spokesman Pawan Khera.
"Rahul Gandhi will not stop from asking difficult questions and exposing crony capitalism and this government's active role in promoting and protecting it," he said.
Earlier on Friday, Congress members held protests in some parts of the country against Gandhi’s conviction and two-year-old jail sentence.
Modi's government has been widely accused of using the defamation law to target and silence critics. The case in Gujarat is one of several lodged against Gandhi, Modi's chief opponent.
"The BJP is fearful about the rise of Rahul Gandhi and he poses a direct threat to the Modi government," said Pradip Bhattacharya, a Congress legislator from West Bengal state.
"Black Day for Indian Democracy!" Srinivas Bhadravathi Venkata, president of the party's youth wing, wrote on Twitter.
BJP president J P Nadda dismissed the charges, saying that Gandhi insulted a section of Indians who happen to share the same surname as Prime Minister Modi.
"It is one thing to question government regarding the policies, that would be considered a healthy debate, but clearly the Congress has never followed such rules," he told Reuters news agency.