The Lok Sabha Secretariat on Monday asked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to vacate the government bungalow allotted to him in Delhi by April 22 following his disqualification as a MP.

On March 23, a court in Gujarat sentenced the Congress politician to two years imprisonment in a criminal defamation case. He was found guilty in a case related to his speech ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in which he referred to thieves as having the surname Modi.

A day later, Gandhi was disqualified as a member of parliament. Under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, a legislator sentenced to jail for two years or more stands to be disqualified from the date of conviction until six years after serving time.

On Monday, an official told PTI that a disqualified Lok Sabha member has to vacate the official bungalow within one month of losing his membership.

Gandhi has been staying at 12, Tughlaq Lane bungalow, since 2014.

Another unidentified official told PTI that Gandhi can write to the Housing Committee of the Lok Sabha for an extended stay at the bungalow.

“The allotment of the aforesaid accommodation shall deem to have been cancelled on 23.04.2023,” the Lok Sabha Secretariat said in a notice.

Congress MP Syed Naseer Hussain accused the Bharatiya Janata Party government of targeting Gandhi. “This was expected of the BJP because the BJP is out on a witch hunt,” he told NDTV. “They use all kinds of tactics to silence voices of dissent. They have thrown one of our important leaders out of parliament by devious means and this is nothing new.”

Opposition leaders have alleged that Gandhi’s conviction in the defamation case is politically motivated, while legal experts speaking to Scroll have opined that the Congress leader’s comments did not defame all persons with the Modi surname.

BJP legislator Purnesh Modi from Gujarat had filed a case against the former Congress chief, claiming that he had defamed the Modi community with his remarks.

The Surat court in its order had said that Gandhi could have stopped at calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a thief and equating him with economic offenders like Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi and beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya.

“He could have limited the discussion to these people,” Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Verma had said. “But the accused intentionally insulted all those with the surname or name Modi.”

The judge, however, granted Gandhi bail and suspended his sentence for 30 days in order to allow him to appeal against the verdict.

The Congress has said that the action against Gandhi was a consequence of his demand for a parliamentary investigation to look into the allegations against the Adani Group.

A report by American firm Hindenburg Research in January alleged that the conglomerate improperly used offshore tax havens and manipulated stocks. The Adani Group has rejected the allegations and denied any wrongdoing.

In a blistering attack in Parliament in February, Gandhi accused the prime minister of bending the rules to help the Adani Group and raised questions about his relationship with the conglomerate’s head Gautam Adani.

At a press conference on Saturday, Gandhi had said that he had been disqualified from Parliament because Modi is scared of his next speech. “Even if they permanently disqualify me, I will keep doing my job,” he declared. “Disqualify me for life, jail me for life, I will continue going.”