Leaders of the Opposition parties gathered together on Friday for a key meeting after the Gujarat court's verdict on Rahul Gandhi. The meeting was held at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) office. Rahul Gandhi was also seen attending the meeting as the court's verdict has posed a threat to his membership in the Parliament.
The Congress party had called for a meeting of opposition leaders today following the conviction of party leader Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case. Gandhi was found guilty of defaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a 2019 campaign trail remark, but was granted bail and his sentence was suspended for 30 days to let him appeal the decision.
The Congress party has called the verdict a political issue related to the future of democracy and an example of the Modi government's politics of vengeance, threats, intimidation, and harassment. Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh told reporters after a party meeting that the verdict is not just a legal issue, but also a serious political issue. He further added that the party has decided to hold protests in Delhi and other states over the matter, and that the verdict will be challenged in a higher court.
Meeting expected to be held at 10 am
The meeting of opposition leaders is expected to begin at 10 am, and the Congress chief, M Kharge, will hold a meeting with all Pradesh Congress chiefs and Congress Legislature Party leaders in the evening to plan agitations in states. Tomorrow, all opposition parties will march from Parliament to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and the party has sought time from President Droupadi Murmu to present their case.
The Congress party has expressed hope that the judgment will be stayed and quashed, and has vowed to fight the verdict legally as well as politically. In his first comment after the verdict, Rahul Gandhi quoted Mahatma Gandhi, tweeting in Hindi, "My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God, non-violence the means to get it."
Congress criticised court's verdict on Gandhi
The defamation case verdict is "erroneous and unsustainable," the Congress has said. The Supreme Court in a 2013 verdict had said that any MP or MLA stands disqualified from the time of his conviction if a sentence of two or more years is pronounced. However, Gandhi's sentence was suspended, and the Congress party has said that the case will be challenged in a higher court.
The Congress party's response to Gandhi's conviction highlights the political tensions in India between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition. The verdict against Gandhi is the latest legal action against opposition party figures and institutions seen as critical of the Modi government.
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