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Ready to pay any price: Rahul after disqualification from LS

Entire Opposition came in support of the beleaguered Congress leader against the Centre’s move.

SNS | New Delhi |


As the entire Opposition came out in support of Rahul Gandhi following his disqualification from the Lok Sabha, the Congress leader on Friday appeared unfazed and said he was ready to pay any price for raising the voice of India.

Rahul Gandhi’s reaction came hours after his disqualification from the Lower House of Parliament following his conviction in a criminal defamation case.

“I am fighting for India’s voice… Ready to pay any price,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted in Hindi.

Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha has triggered a political storm with the Congress calling the move a “strangulation of democracy”.

The Congress leader was disqualified as a member of the Lower House earlier on Friday, a day after his conviction by the Surat court in a defamation case for a remark using the ‘Modi surname’ at a rally in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Congress’ national spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi and senior leader Jairam Ramesh hit out at the Centre over the disqualification of the former Congress party president.

The party alleged that the Congress MP’s disqualification is part of a “pattern” to stop him from speaking out against the Centre and also an attempt to divert public attention from real issues.

Singhvi said, “The issue before us is political, more than it is legal. It is a political issue because it signifies the systematic, repetitive emasculation of democratic institutions by the ruling party. It signifies the strangulation of democracy itself. We know that defamation is an exception to free speech, but over the last several years, we have had repeated examples of unthinkable assaults on freedom of speech, more importantly, freedom after speech. We all know that Rahul Gandhi has been speaking fearlessly inside and outside Parliament. He is paying a price for it.”

He said that the government is resorting to new methods to “throttle” Rahul Gandhi’s voice.

On the severe criticism by the BJP following Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on Indian democracy in the UK recently, Singhvi said the Congress leader is not entitled to speak freely on grounds of “fake and imaginary nationalism”.

“Rahul Gandhi goes abroad, he is not entitled to speak freely on grounds of fake nationalism, created imaginary nationalism. He comes back and his speeches abroad become the basis of action against him inside Parliament. All of this is part of a pattern to stop him (from speaking out against this government), to divert public attention from the real and burning issues before the nation today. It is also intended to create a fear psychosis among those who dare to question this government,” he said.

Singhvi said Rahul will emerge victorious in the higher court in the defamation case.

“We are confident that we will get a stay on his conviction, which will, in turn, remove the very basis of this disqualification. We have full faith in the law. We believe we will emerge victorious in the near future,” he said.

“This government is rattled because he (Rahul Gandhi) clearly speaks with facts and figures on demonetisation. Be it the supposed clean chit to China, or the GST, he is consistently aggressive and open in his questioning. Therefore this government is finding new techniques of throttling his voice,” Ramesh alleged.

Earlier in the day, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, while talking to a news agency said, “They (BJP) tried all ways to disqualify him (Rahul Gandhi). They don’t want to keep those who are speaking the truth but we will continue to speak the truth. We’ll continue to demand JPC, If needed we’ll go to jail to save democracy.”

Party leader Shashi Tharoor took a dig at the alacrity with which the order was passed saying he was stunned by the “rapidity” of the action and termed it as “politics with the gloves off”.

Taking to Twitter, Tharoor said, “I am stunned by this action and by its rapidity, within 24 hours of the court verdict and while an appeal was known to be in process. This is politics with the gloves off and it bodes ill for our democracy.”

While Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted, “We will fight this battle both legally and politically. We will not be intimidated or silenced. Instead of a JPC into the PM-linked Adani Maha Mega Scam, Rahul Gandhi stands disqualified. Indian Democracy Om Shanti.”

Rahul Gandhi has found support in its stand from other opposition parties.

Former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray said Rahul Gandhi’s candidacy has been cancelled. “Calling a thief, a thief has become a crime in our country. Thieves & looters are still free & Rahul Gandhi was punished. This is a direct murder of democracy. All govt systems are under pressure. This is the beginning of the end of dictatorship. Only the fight has to be given direction,” the Former Maharashtra CM said.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, in a tweet, said: “It’s condemnable that the BJP is now using the criminal defamation route to target opposition leaders and disqualify them as done with @RahulGandhi now. This comes on top of the gross misuse of ED/CBI against the opposition. Resist and defeat such authoritarian assaults.”

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress national General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee maintained a subtle distance from Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi even while slamming his disqualification from the Lok Sabha. Both Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee gave a message on this issue through their respective Twitter handles but both refrained from naming Gandhi.

According to the chief minister, in the current India, the BJP always targets Opposition leaders with disqualification for speeches being the latest development on this count.

“In PM Modi’s New India, Opposition leaders have become the prime target of BJP! While BJP leaders with criminal antecedents are inducted into the cabinet, Opposition leaders are disqualified for their speeches. Today, we have witnessed a new low for our constitutional democracy,” her Twitter message read.

On the other hand, Abhishek Banerjee’s message was even more crisp as he did not even make a subtle mention of the disqualification issue. “DEMOCRATIC INDIA is an OXYMORON Now,” his Twitter message read.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha “the act of scared government”. “The way Rahul Gandhi was implicated and his membership has been terminated… we respect the court, but this is a cowardly act and the work of a scared government”, he told the media.

Kejriwal appealed to the people of the country to come forward to save the democracy. He said that the way democracy is being attacked, we all have to come together.

“This is not a fight of Rahul Gandhi or Congress, but this is a fight to save the country from a dictator and a less educated person,” he said.

“What is going on today is very dangerous, they want to create an environment of One Nation One Party… this is called dictatorship,” he alleged.

In a tweet, he termed the expulsion of Gandhi from the Lok Sabha “shocking”.

“The country is passing through very difficult times. They have kept the whole country scared. Total 130 crore people will have to unite against their arrogant power”.

Meanwhile, several opposition MPs and leaders were detained on Friday while they were marching towards Vijay Chowk from Parliament reiterating their demand for a JPC probe into the Adani issue.

Delhi Police also made announcements asking opposition MPs to not march ahead as Section 144 CrPC has been imposed in Vijay Chowk area.