Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Wednesday said the party does not want to play the role of a “big brother” and called for a collective fight against the “big challenge” posed with disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from his Lok Sabha seat.
His disqualification has increased his popularity and stature, making him a symbol of freedom for the country’s people, and the party would do whatever it takes to protect and defend that symbol, Khurshid said.
Addressing a press conference at the Congress office in Srinagar, Khurshid said it is for the collective leadership of the opposition parties to decide who will lead the struggle.
“A collective effort should be made, all should come together and all leaders should decide who will get what responsibility or rights,” Khurshid said.
“(Mallikarjun) Kharge called all the leaders and almost all of them came. Many such leaders who earlier were silent have openly supported Rahul over this episode. So, we hope this will be taken forward soon and all of us will decide together,” he said.
The opposition parties were on one page over the need for unity and the Congress is hopeful that the efforts will fructify, he said.
“When Rahul’s yatra reached J&K, he was welcomed also by other parties. That is what we want, we will welcome others, others will welcome us,” he said.
Khurshid said the party will move the higher courts over Rahul’s conviction in a 2019 criminal defamation case by a Surat court and is hopeful of getting relief as the maximum sentence given in such a case is unheard of.
“Never has the maximum sentence been given in a criminal defamation case. The maximum two-year sentence for criminal defamation is unheard of. We can hardly find cases where it was given, especially to an elected representative,” he said.
In another press conference earlier in the day, PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti asked Congress to act like an “elder brother” and create space for opposition parties in their fight for democracy.
“Congress will have to behave like an elder brother. It should not choke space, it should create space for other opposition parties, which have been its alliance partner in the past, to save the democracy in the country,” Mufti said.