Rahul Gandhi defamation case: In a surprise move, which might have implications on initiatives to unite the Opposition ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election, Aam Aadmi Party national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal lent his support to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi after he was sentenced to two years in jail in a defamation case on Thursday.
Kejriwal alleged that a conspiracy was being hatched to "eliminate" non-BJP leaders and parties by prosecuting them.
"A conspiracy is being hatched to eliminate non-BJP leaders and parties by prosecuting them. We have differences with Congress, but it is not right to implicate Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case like this. It is the job of the public and the Opposition to ask questions. We respect the court but disagree with the decision," Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.
AAP Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha said Opposition forms the core of democracy and dissent should not be stifled. "Respectfully disagree with court verdict against Rahul Gandhi. Opposition forms the core of democracy. Dissent should not be stifled. India has a strong tradition of critique. Attempt to reduce this to the viewpoint of one ideology, one party, one leader is unconstitutional and undemocratic," he tweeted.
Kejriwal's support may help shaping up Opposition
It is speculated that AAP's support to the former Congress president may help consolidate divided Opposition. This is the first time AAP showed any sympathy towards the grand old party after their separation in 2014. Even Congress attacked AAP when its leader Manish Sisodia and Satyedar Jain were jailed. But, in the changed scenario, they may come closer. If Congress and AAP come on the same page, Kejriwal may rope in other big stakeholders in Opposition- TMC's Mamata Banerjee and BRS' KCR.
'Satya mera bhagwan...': Rahul Gandhi reacts
In his first reaction after being convicted in a defamation case, Gandhi invoked Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh in two separate tweets. A court in Surat in Gujarat on Thursday sentenced Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his “Modi surname” remarks who had made the remarks while addressing a rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Gandhi was present in the court when the verdict was pronounced. The case was filed against Gandhi for his alleged “how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?” remarks on a complaint lodged by BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi.
(With PTI input)
Also read- 'Words are deadlier than weapons': BJP on Rahul Gandhi's conviction in 'Modi surname' defamation case