Rajat Sharma



After a long gap, there were smiles on the faces of Congress leaders and workers on Friday, with drums being beaten and sweets distributed at party offices. They were heaving a sigh of relief after a gap of 134 days. On Friday, Supreme Court stayed Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in a defamation case over his Modi surname remark. Rahul’s conviction had resulted in his disqualification from membership of Lok Sabha, and he had to vacate his official bungalow. Congress leaders described the apex court relief as a triumph of justice. Addressing a press conference, Rahul Gandhi, flanked by his party president, said, “come what may, my duty remains the same. I want to protect the idea of India. My mind is quite clear about my future course.” Though the SC bench of Justices B R Gavai, P S Narasimha and Sanjay Kumar has given stay on the conviction, the fact remains, Rahul Gandhi is yet to be acquitted. The apex court bench said, “the ramifications of the ruling are wide, and affect the rights of his constituency’s electorate. Considering the aforesaid, and particularly that no reasons have been given for awarding maximum sentence, the order of conviction needs to be stayed pending proceedings.” The bench also said, “had the sentence been even a day lesser, the provisions (of disqualification) would not have applied. There is no whisper by the trial judge for the need to impose maximum sentence”. The apex court bench however said that there is “no doubt that the utterances (of Rahul) were not in good taste and a person in public life is expected to exercise caution while making public speeches.” The defamation case will now go on trial in the sessions court, and in the meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi will get back his Lok Sabha membership and his official bungalow. Clearly, the Supreme Court has given the stay because Rahul had lost his LS membership because of the two years’ imprisonment sentence. Rahul must have garnered public sympathy because he had to vacate his official bungalow as a result of this sentence. The matter would not have blown out of proportion, had Rahul not lost his LS membership and bungalow. It would have been better if the ruling establishment had not given much weight to the defamation case. Naturally, Congress willnow go to town to proclaim its ‘moral victory’, but, in reality, neither the case has ended nor the apex court has given him a clean chit. One point to note is that even the Supreme Court did not consider the “All people with Modi surname are thieves” remark as “not in good taste”. I feel, Rahul Gandhi should not make this remark an issue of ego. In course of public speeches, leaders often make remarks which are in bad taste. Had Rahul told the lower court that he had no intention of insulting an entire community, the matter would have ended then and there, and the case would not have reached the Supreme Court. One positive conclusion that has emerged from this episode is that neither Rahul Gandhi nor the Congress can now allege that Narendra Modi controls the Supreme Court. Credibility and independence of judiciary is the hallmark of a thriving democracy. For the Bharatiya Janata Party, it is a good sign that the forthcoming electoral battle is going to be between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. That suits BJP fine. On Friday, opposition leaders who are part of the INDIA alliance, came out openly to congratulate Rahul Gandhi after the stay order. The Congress party had supported Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party in Lok Sabha on Thursday during the debate on Delhi Services Ordinance Bill. Kejriwal was the first to congratulate Rahul Gandhi soon after the Supreme Court stayed his conviction. Kejriwal tweeted, “I welcome Hon’ble Supreme Court’s intervention in an unjust defamation case against Rahul Gandhi ji. It reinforces people’s trust in Indian democracy and the judicial system. Congratulations to him and to the people of Wayanad.” The bonhomie between AAP and Congress is now clear, both inside and outside Parliament.

Get connected on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Comments are closed.