Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was today reinstated to the parliament following a stay on his conviction in a criminal defamation case over his ‘Modi surname’ remark. Mr Gandhi will be back in the Lok Sabha, representing his constituency Wayanad, at a time when the parliament has seen repeated disruptions over the Opposition bloc INDIA’s demand for a dedicated discussion on violence in Manipur prefaced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on the same.
Following restoration of his membership, the Congress said it would like him to be a key speaker in the debate on no-confidence motion likely to be taken up in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Congress MP Manickam Tagore told NDTV the party wants Rahul Gandhi to participate in the discussion on the no-confidence motion as he has visited Manipur.
“It is expected that he will present the facts related to Manipur in the Lok Sabha,” he said.
Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as a Lok Sabha member on March 24, with effect from March 23 after a Gujarat court convicted him in a defamation case and sentenced him to two years in jail.
A punishment of two years and above automatically disqualifies a lawmaker.
INDIA alliance leaders were seen celebrating the occasion with sweets.
#WATCH | I.N.D.I.A alliance leaders celebrate following restoration of Lok Sabha membership of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
(Source: AICC) pic.twitter.com/vaVwBcreYM
— ANI (@ANI) August 7, 2023
Congress tweeted the official notification from the Lok Sabha Secretariat, calling it “Victory of love against hate”.
नफरत के खिलाफ मोहब्बत की जीत ❤️ pic.twitter.com/HWKn3pG53l
— Congress (@INCIndia) August 7, 2023
Senior Congress MP Shashi Tharoor called it “a victory for justice and for our democracy”.
“With enormous relief, welcome the official announcement of @RahulGandhi’s reinstatement. He can now resume his duties in the Lok Sabha to serve the people of India and his constituents in Wayanad. A victory for justice and for our democracy!” he tweeted.
With enormous relief, welcome the official announcement of @RahulGandhi‘s reinstatement. He can now resume his duties in the Lok Sabha to serve the people of India and his constituents in Wayanad. A victory for justice and for our democracy!@INCIndia@ProfCong
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) August 7, 2023
The Supreme Court on Friday, while ordering a stay on Rahul Gandhi’s conviction, said that while his remarks were not in good taste, his disqualification from parliament would affect his constituents.
The trial judge had awarded the maximum sentence of two years in the case, the top court had observed, pointing out that it would not have attracted disqualification as an MP if the sentence was a day lesser. “The ramifications of disqualification not just affects the rights of the individual but also the electorate,” the judges said.
Mr Gandhi was disqualified in May after he received a two-year jail term in a defamation case following his comments regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname. At a rally in Karnataka’s Kolar ahead of the 2019 general election, in a dig at PM Modi, Mr Gandhi had said, “How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?”
After a reprieve from the top court, Mr Gandhi, who has consistently refused to apologise, tweeted, “Come what may, my duty remains the same. Protect the idea of India”.
There are several other criminal defamation cases pending against Mr Gandhi, including “the high-profile case of mudslinging the venerable Veer Savarkar”, filed by the freedom fighter’s family, BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya had tweeted.
In an affidavit before the top court, Rahul Gandhi had said that he has always maintained that he is not guilty of the offence and that the “conviction is unsustainable” and if he had to apologise and compound the offence, “he would have done it much earlier”.
Rahul Gandhi has challenged the trial court order in the Surat Sessions court, where the appeal is pending