Rahul Gandhi disqualification: Sharp criticism from India’s opposition parties


Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday termed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lak Sabha “the act of a 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 on Friday.

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”.

ALSO READ: Congress says it will take the legal route to fight the disqualification

“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”.

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.

Political observers feel that through these guarded Twitter messages, the two Banerjees have given a subtle hint that despite not missing a single opportunity to attack the Union government or the Prime Minister on any issue, the Trinamool will refrain from extending sympathetic reactions about any Congress leader on this count.

In a strongly-worded statement following Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as MP, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday condemned the action of the Sangh Parivar forces which acted against the Congress leader to put silence those who speak against them.

“The intolerance towards criticism is a threat to democracy and the action taken against Gandhi must be seen in that light and all democracy loving people should come forward to oppose this,” he said.

Vijayan, who is presently in Delhi to attend his party CPI-M’s Politburo meeting, said this act of the Sangh Parivar forces is the latest in the series of attack on democracy.

“These forces just are unable to tolerate criticism and Gandhi made a political speech and just see the speed at which things turned against him. These forces use power to take on criticism and this is nothing but fascist way to deal with those who oppose them and the victim is none other than a tall leader of the Opposition.

“On Friday, in Delhi, opposition MPs were arrested for protesting against the actions of using national agencies on political opponents like Manish Sisodia and Gandhi. Likewise people who posted posters against the Centre in Delhi was arrested. All these does not augur well for democracy and our Constitution,” he added.

Earlier on Friday, a day after his conviction in a criminal defamation case, Gandhi, the MP from Kerala’s Wayanad, was on Friday disqualified from the Lok Sabha.

The Lok Sabha Secretariat in its notification, signed by Secretary General, Lok Sabha, said, “Consequent upon his conviction by the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat…, Rahul Gandhi, Lok Sabha MP representing Wayanad Parliamentary constituency of Kerala, stands disqualified from the membership of the lower house from the date of his conviction…”

A district court in Gujarat’s Surat on Thursday convicted Gandhi in a criminal defamation case against him over his alleged ‘Modi surname’ remark in 2019.

Gandhi was convicted under Indian Penal Code sections 499 and 500. The maximum possible punishment under this section is two years.

JD-U leader and Bihar Finance Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary sharply reacted to the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from the Lok Sabha, terming it a dangerous trend in the country.

“We are surprised and shocked that a big leader like Rahul Gandhi was convicted by a CJM of Surat on Thursday and on very next day, he was disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha,” he said.

“Rahul Gandhi had given a speech in Kerala four years ago and a CJM of Surat is announcing his conviction is not justified. Rahul Gandhi is a big leader of the country and if he is convicted only on the basis of an election speech, it is not appropriate. Justice needs to look natural but in this case it has surprised and shocked people of Bihar and the entire country. The disqualification of his membership from Lok Sabha was done in a hurry,” Chaudhary added.

Maharashtra’s opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) exploded in fury on Thursday over the action against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who has been disqualified from his Lok Sabha seat while the ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party strongly supported the move.

Shiv Sena-UBT President and former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray called it “a sheer murder of democracy” and said now “it’s a crime to call even a thief a thief” in the country.

Nationalist Congress Party’s Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar flayed the move and said “this has put democracy in peril”.

State Congress President Nana Patole demanded to know “if you don’t call a ‘chor’ (thief) as a ‘chor’, then should he be called a ‘daaku’ (dacoit)” and said that democracy is being trampled with the help of all agencies.

“Gandhi is being punished for exposing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government which is only working for the corrupt people like Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Mehul Choksi, Vijay Mallya, who have looted thousands of crores of public money, and he is not being allowed to speak in the parliament,” he said.

Uddhav Thackeray added: “The thieves and scamsters are running around freely while Rahul Gandhi has been punished. This is a blatant murder of democracy. All institutions are under pressure. It spells the beginning of the end of autocracy, and the fight needs a new direction.”

Commenting on the developments, NCP President Sharad Pawar had cited on Thursday the example of his party’s Lakshwadeep MP Mohammed Faizal’s matter and said that the Surat court judgement on Rahul Gandhi underscores the point

“I deplore this new trend in our political landscape which should concern everyone in today’s scenario. I express my serious concerns at the attempt to curtail fundamental rights, freedom of speech, and democratic expressions in the country. The repeated attempts to suppress the voices of political parties, leaders and citizens of India is a matter of grave concern,” said Pawar.

Congress Legislative Party Leader Balasaheb Thorat said the LS decision is like “killing” democracy, but now Gandhi will emerge like Indira Gandhi, and will vanquish the BJP to lead the country.

Sena-UBT leader Aditya Thackeray said that the Constitution and democracy is being finished off and those who speak the truth are being targeted, and its not about Gandhi alone but it is against the entire democratic foundation.

Other state Opposition leaders like Samajwadi Party President Abu Asim Azmi, Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, Jayant Patil, Ajay Chaudhary, also slammed the move and later staged a black-ribbon demonstration outside the legislature.

On the other hand, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde attacked Gandhi and warned that “no attack against PM Modi will be tolerated”, and even asked the MVA on what grounds were they calling him a “gaddar” and running a “Khokha” government.

Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis chided the Opposition MVA for calling even the CM Shinde a “thief” and said this was not right in a democracy.

State BJP leaders like Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, Ashish Shelar and others have slammed Gandhi for his unbridled utterances for which he is now paying, and said that the law is equal for all in a democracy.

Earlier on the day, leaders of the RJD, the Congress, and Left parties organised a protest in the Assembly on the issue. JD-U leaders however maintained distance from it. After the statement of Chaudhary, JD-U leaders are attacking the Narendra Modi government.

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