NEW DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said he is fighting for the voice of India and is ready to pay any price, hours after he was disqualified from Lok Sabha.
In a tweet in Hindi, the 52-year-old former Congress president said, "I am fighting for the voice of India. I am ready to pay any price."
Announcing his disqualification, the Lok Sabha Secretariat in a notification said it was effective from March 23, the day of his conviction.
On Thursday, a court in Surat sentenced Gandhi to two years in jail in a defamation case, filed on a complaint by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi for his remark, "How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?"
Barred from contesting polls
The Representation of the People Act, 1951, the law that governs elections in India, mandates the disqualification of any politician who is “convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years”.
The law also mandates that a convicted legislator cannot contest elections for six years after the end of their jail sentence.
Rahul Gandhi faces the risk of not being able to contest the Lok Sabha elections in 2024 if his conviction is not suspended or overturned by a higher court before the elections.
Following his disqualification, Gandhi would not be able to contest elections for eight years unless a higher court stays his conviction and sentence.
Rahul's history with the RP Act
In 2013, the top court, in its judgement in the Lily Thomas case, had struck down section 8(4) of the RP Act that gave a convicted lawmaker the power to remain in office on the grounds that appeals have been filed within three months of the conviction.
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, in 2013, had attempted to nullify the Supreme Court ruling striking down the RP Act provision which gave protection from disqualification for three months.
Incidentally, it was Gandhi who had opposed the ordinance brought by the Congress party in a press conference where he proceeded to tear it as a mark of protest, also terming it "complete nonsense."
A Surat court on Thursday sentenced the Wayanad MP to two years in prison over a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his 'Modi surname' remarks during an election speech in Kolar in Karnataka. However, the trial court suspended Gandhi's sentence for 30 days.
On Thursday, Congress MP and lawyer Abhishek Singhvi said that the party will challenge the order in a higher court and the conviction was ‘erroneous and unsustainable’. According to sources, the party is going all out to challenge the order and has decided to throw its weight behind the former Congress President. The party is consulting Constitutional and top legal experts, said a senior leader.
The party has also decided to intensify protests across the country against the court order. While the party called a meeting of steering committee members, CLP leaders, and others for a meeting in the evening, Opposition leaders will march to Vijay Chowk at noon. (AIR NEWS)