Congress MP Rahul Gandhi will not get cowered down by his conviction in the defamation case and will continue to speak in the interest of the country as he has the “power of truth” with him, the party’s General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said on Thursday.
Earlier on Thursday, a magistrate in Gujarat’s Surat sentenced Gandhi to two years’ imprisonment for his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname. The court, however, granted him bail and suspended his sentence for 30 days in order to allow him to appeal against the verdict.
The Wayanad MP had allegedly made the remarks at a rally in Karnataka’s Kolar ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He was said to have asked: “Why all the thieves, be it Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi or Narendra Modi, have Modi in their names?”
Commenting on the verdict, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that the government was scared and trying to suppress his brother’s voice.
“My brother has never been scared, nor will he ever be scared in the future,” she said on Twitter. “He has spoken the truth, and will continue to speak the truth...He has the power of truth and the love of crores of citizens with him.”
Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge claimed that the BJP government was angry at Gandhi as he and the Opposition have been demanding an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into allegations of stock manipulation against the Adani Group.
“The Modi government, which is a victim of political bankruptcy, sends the Enforcement Directorate and police, and files cases on the basis of political speeches,” he said. The Congress chief said that an appeal against the verdict will be filed in a higher court.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that democracy was in danger and there was pressure on institutions such as the judiciary and Election Commission. “All decisions are made under influence,” he said, according to ANI. “...Rahul Gandhi is a courageous man and only he can compete with [the National Democratic Alliance] government.”
Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal said that while his party has differences with the Congress, it was not correct to embroil Gandhi in a defamation case. “There is a conspiracy to finish off non-BJP leaders parties by filing cases against them,” he said.
Kejriwal wrote in a tweet: “The job of the people and the Opposition is to ask questions. We respect the court but disagree with this verdict.”
On the other hand, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said that Gandhi’s remarks had caused harm to the Congress and were not good for the country, PTI reported.
“Whatever Rahul Gandhi says causes harm,” Rijiju said. “It causes harm not only to the party but also to others. It is not good for the nation.”
Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Verma convicted Gandhi under Sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code.
Apart from the prime minister, the Congress leader was referring to the fugitive businessman accused in the Punjab National Bank scam and the former Indian Premier League chief.