Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reached Surat on Monday afternoon. Gandhi had left his residence for Surat on Monday morning. He was recently sentenced to two years in prison over a 2019 defamation case filed against him by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi for comments made during a rally in which he targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that all thieves shared the Modi surname.
Senior Congress leaders, including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the chief ministers of three Congress-ruled states, accompained him.
Who will be in Surat with Rahul?
The Congress leader is expected to reach Surat at around 2 pm, and senior party leaders such as Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Congress Rajya Sabha member K C Venugopal will be there, along with Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, and Himachal Pradesh CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.
Gandhi's plea to the sessions court
In his plea, Gandhi asked the sessions court to set aside the Magistrate's order convicting him in the defamation case. He has also asked for an interim stay on the conviction till the matter is disposed of. Unless his conviction is put on hold by a higher court, the Election Commission will announce a special election for the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat, and Gandhi will be barred from contesting elections for the next eight years.
Party workers gather outside sessions court in Surat
Congress party workers have gathered outside District and Sessions Court in Surat in support of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who will arrive there today to appeal against his conviction in a defamation case.
Himachal Pradesh CM supports Rahul Gandhi
Himachal Pradesh CM Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu supported Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on his plea challenging his conviction in the defamation case. He also stated that he will be visiting Surat as him and his party workers stand strong with Gandhi.
"No one can pressurise judiciary. We are going to Surat. Congress is the main opposition party and Rahul Gandhi is big leader of our party. This is not a political drama. We stand by him," said Himachal Pradesh CM Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu.
Chhattisgarh CM to accompany Gandhi as well in Surat
Chhattisgarh CM & Congress leader Bhupesh Baghel criticised the BJP over ruckus in the states of West Bengal and Bihar. He also stated that he will be accompanying Rahul Gandhi today in Surat as the leader left to challenge his conviction in the Modi defamation case
"I am going with my leader (Rahul Gandhi), how can this be pressure on the judiciary? They (BJP) are creating ruckus in West Bengal and Bihar. Till now no appeal has come from PM Modi and Amit Shah," said Baghel.
Gujarat police ramps up security measures
"Given the presence of Rahul Gandhi in Surat district court the Surat city police have deployed the police force wherever there is a possibility of movement. We will also be starting frisking & checking," said Sagar Bagmar, DCP Zone-4 Surat.
Criticism and opposition to disqualification
Gandhi was granted bail and his sentence was suspended for 30 days to allow for an appeal, but he was quickly disqualified from Parliament. This has prompted criticism from the Congress party, which has called it a conspiracy to silence him. Opposition leaders have also questioned the speed with which action was taken against Gandhi.
The BJP has defended the move and criticized Gandhi for his comments, calling them an intentional insult to the OBC community. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has dismissed the criticism and urged Gandhi to appeal to a higher court. He has also criticized Gandhi's apparent refusal to seek a stay on his conviction, calling it arrogance.
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