The Congress leadership said that the Union government led by Narendra Modi wanted to silence those who speak the truth.
“Undemocratic”, “authoritarian rampage”, and “the height of arrogance and dictatorship”, said three non-BJP non-Congress chief ministers in South India while denouncing the disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as a Member of Parliament.
The Lok Sabha secretariat disqualified Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi on Friday, 24 March, a day after a court in Surat in Gujarat awarded him a two-year jail term after finding him guilty in a 2019 defamation case.
The disqualification, however, united the Opposition parties, especially in the south, with almost all of them condemning the move against the Gandhi scion. The call for a united Opposition against the BJP also became louder.
Congress president Mallikarjuna Kharge said that the Narendra Modi government was scared of Rahul Gandhi and his party.
“They cancelled the Lok Sabha membership of Rahul Gandhi for killing democracy. They want to silence those who speak the truth. The country will not tolerate this dictatorship. We will even go to jail to protect democracy,” Kharge said in a tweet.
मोदी सरकार को सबसे ज़्यादा डर श्री @RahulGandhi व कांग्रेस पार्टी से लगता है।
लोकतंत्र की हत्या करने लिए उन्होंने श्री गाँधी की संसद सदस्यता रद्द की है।वो सच बोलने वालों का मुँह बंद करना चाहते हैं।
देशवासी ये तानाशाही नहीं सहेंगे।
लोकतंत्र की हिफ़ाज़त के लिए हम जेल तक जाएँगे। pic.twitter.com/bxvwwJik5U
— Mallikarjun Kharge (@kharge) March 24, 2023
“The day Rahul Gandhi raised questions against Gautam Adani, the Modi government started a conspiracy to silence his voice,” AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said.
“The ministers in the Modi government have often levelled farcical allegations against Rahul Gandhi. The Lok Sabha, as per the tradition and the rule, should have sought clarification from the member concerned. This is a clear case of the anti-democratic dictatorship of the BJP government,” he added.
राहुल गांधी जी की लोकसभा सदस्यता ख़त्म कर दी गई।
वह आपके और इस देश के लिए लगातार सड़क से संसद तक लड़ रहे हैं, लोकतंत्र को बचाने की हर सम्भव कोशिश कर रहे हैं।
हर षड्यंत्र के बावजूद वह यह लड़ाई हर क़ीमत पर जारी रखेंगे और इस मामले में न्यायसंगत कार्यवाही करेंगे।
लड़ाई जारी है✊️ pic.twitter.com/4cd9KfG3op
— Congress (@INCIndia) March 24, 2023
Speaking to South First, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee general secretary Lakshmi Ramachandran said, “The government of the day is scared of facing him in Parliament. They file a silly case in a Gujarat court to get him convicted and disqualified from Parliament. It’s all to save Modiji’s friend Adani from facing an investigation.”
She said the Congress would fight the move against Gandhi legally and politically.
“If our voice is throttled in Parliament, we will speak in every other forum, in street corners, and expose the corrupt, authoritarian government intoxicated on power, which wants to destroy democracy and our Constitutional values,” she added
Telangana Congress MLA Bhatti Vikramarka Mallu termed the decision to disqualify Gandhi dangerous for a democratic country like India.
“The BJP government under Narendra Modi and Amit Shah lodged a false and baseless complaint. They are using the court order sentencing Gandhi to disqualify Rahul Gandhi. This is an unwarranted and undemocratic act,” he told South First.
Bhatti Vikramarka Mallu also said the Speaker of the House should have been broadminded and acted according to the spirit of the Constitution, instead of debarring a member based on one incident.
“The Speaker’s decision is not in the spirit of the Constitution as only the Surat court has given its judgment, which could be challenged and superseded in the Gujarat High Court or before a single judge bench of the Supreme Court,” he opined.
While noting that the Congress in Telangana will hold protests against the disqualification of Gandhi, Mallu added that the decision against his party leader was also an offshoot of his presentation on Adani in the Lok Sabha and the successful completion of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
“These factors scared them very much,” he alleged.
Rajya Sabha member Syed Naseer Hussain told South First that Rahul Gandhi stood vindicated because what he has been saying or trying to say in Parliament — about the curtailing of the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, and the attack on democracy — was not being tolerated by the ruling the party.
Rahul Gandhi’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Adani deals “forced the BJP on the backfoot and they would find it tough if the probe is ordered. It is why they are resorting to such moves,” he said.
He added that the Congress would seek legal recourse, besides taking the issue to the people’s court.
Karnataka Youth Congress president Mohammed Nalapad termed Friday “a black day for democracy”.
“Rahul Gandhi referred to Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi, who had indeed defaulted,” he told South First. “Why would someone make the mistake that his remarks were against Narendra Modi?”
Nalapad further said that individuals are being targeted, which is not fair in a democratic setup.
Congress MLA and former Opposition leader in the Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala, too, said the party would fight the move against Gandhi legally and politically.
“We have already started protest rallies in Kerala, and they will be extended to every nook and corner of the country. The immediate disqualification has raised suspicion among the public,” he told South First.
“This is the BJP’s grand design to silence the Congress and Rahul Gandhi but the people of India will reject it. The people believe in democratic values and are intelligent to understand these issues. They are not going to accept it,” he added.
Rahul Gandhi also received support from CPI(M) leader and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, his political rival in the state.
“The hasty decision to disqualify @RahulGandhi as a member of the Lok Sabha is yet another episode in
@BJP4India’s authoritarian rampage against Indian democracy [sic],” Vijayan tweeted.
“This brazen assault is an insult to our democratic values and can’t be overlooked. It must be unequivocally denounced [sic],” he added.
Several other CPI(M) leaders also condemned the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi.
The hasty decision to disqualify @RahulGandhi as a member of the Lok Sabha is yet another episode in @BJP4India's authoritarian rampage against Indian democracy. This brazen assault is an insult to our democratic values and can't be overlooked. It must be unequivocally denounced.
— Pinarayi Vijayan (@pinarayivijayan) March 24, 2023
Condemning the BJP-led government, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK leader MK Stalin termed the disqualification of Gandhi a “fascist move”.
“The disqualification of Rahul Gandhi is an attack on the progressive democratic forces. I insist on withdrawing the action taken against Rahul,” Stalin said in a statement.
He further appealed to all political parties to come together against the move.
Telangana Chief Minister and BRS president K Chandrashekar Rao said it was highly deplorable that the Central government under Modi, besides abusing constitutional institutions, had been using the highest democratic platform, Parliament, to carry out its nefarious activities.
“Today is a Black Day in the history of Indian democracy. Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Parliament is the height of Narendra Modi’s arrogance and dictatorship,” KCR said.
He said Modi’s regime has overshadowed the Emergency. “Harassment of Opposition leaders has become routine. Modi on his own is collapsing by disqualifying Opposition leaders to protect criminals and cheats.”
“This is not the time for conflicts between parties,” he said, urging all to come together.
“All those who believe in democracy should openly condemn the misdeeds of the BJP government to safeguard the democracy and the country’s constitutional values. We should resist the BJP’s evil policies,” he added.
BRS working president and IT Minister in Telangana government KT Rama Rao said that the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi was a blatant misinterpretation of the Constitution.
“The hastiness showed in this issue is highly undemocratic. I condemn this!,” KTR tweeted.
Disqualification of @RahulGandhi Ji is a blatant misinterpretation of Constitution
The hastiness showed in this issue is highly undemocratic
I condemn this! pic.twitter.com/ZaJ8WnK0cM
— KTR (@KTRBRS) March 24, 2023
However, Telangana BJP chief and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar demanded an unconditional apology from Rahul Gandhi.
Bandi Sanjay told reporters at Telangana Bhavan in New Delhi that Rahul, by saying that all those with the surname “Modi” were thieves, had not only insulted the prime minister but also OBCs.
“He should admit his mistake and immediately tender an unconditional apology to Modi as well as the OBC sections,” the BJP leader demanded.
He said it was in the Congress’ DNA to treat OBCs with contempt, denigrate courts, and violate the law.
“Right from Indira Gandhi in the past to Rahul Gandhi now, Congress leaders have been disrespecting the judiciary. When a court delivers a judgment, they attribute motives to the judges instead of honouring the ruling. This is nothing but insulting the judiciary,” he said.
Urging the OBCs to protest against Rahul Gandhi, Bandi Sanjay said there was no change in the Congress leader’s attitude despite receiving a rap from the Supreme Court for his “Chowkidar Chor Hai” remark.
“Rahul Gandhi doesn’t know what he speaks. He denigrated even Parliament by saying that it was his misfortune that he had become an MP. His party workers are saying that the party has plunged into a crisis only because of Rahul Gandhi, who has turned out to be a ‘Shani’ for the Congress,” he said.
Bandi Sanjay said it was shameful on the part of Rahul Gandhi to insult Indian democracy on foreign soil.
“At least now, he has to abide by the court’s judgment. Otherwise, the nation will not acknowledge him as a citizen of the country,” he said.