The Congress expressed solidarity with former party chief Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday and accused the Centre of acting in haste as part of a conspiracy to disqualify him from the Lok Sabha after his conviction in a 2019 defamation case, which he is likely to challenge very soon.
Sources said a petition challenging Gandhi’s conviction and sentencing by a trial court in Gujarat’s Surat is ready.
The top legal advisors of the Congress are giving finishing touches to the review petition, which will be filed before the Surat sessions court “very shortly”, they added.
Several Congress leaders held press meets across the country in Gandhi’s support and highlighted how he was disqualified from the Lok Sabha within a day of his conviction in a “false” case.
Congress leaders and supporters posted their pictures on social media, offering their houses to Gandhi since the Lok Sabha Secretariat has sent him an eviction notice for his 12, Tughlak Lane official bungalow in Delhi after his conviction.
Gandhi has been sentenced to two years in jail by the Surat court over his remarks on the Modi surname, following which he was disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha.
The Congress has said it will fight the matter both politically and legally, and take the issue to the public.
Meanwhile, Gandhi visited the Congress office in the Parliament House complex, met some party workers and asked them whether both houses of Parliament were functioning or not.
He spent around 20 minutes at the party office and along with her mother and Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi, met Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MP Sanjay Raut and others to sort out differences over his anti-Savarkar remarks.
Both the Congress leaders later left for lunch.
Rahul Gandhi did not talk to the media.
Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury were also present at the party office in the Parliament House complex.
In a reprieve for Gandhi, the Election Commission (EC) has said it is in no hurry to announce a bypoll to the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala as the trial court has given the Congress leader a month’s time to appeal against its order.
Gandhi represented the Wayanad seat in the Lok Sabha before his disqualification.
“There is no hurry, we will wait. There is no hurry to do it before exhausting that particular remedy which the trial court has accorded. We will take a call after that,” Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar told a press conference here.
He said the vacancy in the Wayanad parliamentary seat was notified on March 23 and according to the law in this regard, a bypoll has to be conducted within six months.
Kumar said the law also states that if the remainder of the term is less than a year, a bypoll will not be held.
The CEC, however, added that in the case of Wayanad, the remainder of the term is more than a year.
Congress leaders held press conferences at several state headquarters and major cities across the country to highlight how Gandhi was disqualified for asking questions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Senior Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh Digvijaya Singh said Gandhi, who has been served a notice to vacate his government bungalow in Delhi, can stay at his residence.
The Rajya Sabha MP said the entire country is like a family for Gandhi, who has a “liberal heart”.
“For people like you having a liberal heart, the entire country is your family. The feeling of Vasudhaiva Kutumubakam (the world is a family) is the basic character of our country,” Singh said in a tweet with the hashtag #MeraGharApkaGhar.
“Rahulji my house is your house and I welcome you. I will consider myself lucky if you come and stay,” he added.
Singh has an official residence in New Delhi as a Rajya Sabha member.
Several other Congress leaders and supporters posted their pictures carrying placards and inviting Gandhi to stay at their houses.
Congress Whip in the Lok Sabha Manickam Tagore told reporters outside Parliament that the BJP-led Centre has deliberately disqualified Gandhi under a well-planned conspiracy not to allow him to attend Parliament during the ongoing budget session.
“This is a totally false case and his disqualification has come to keep him away from Parliament. But we will fight it both legally and politically,” he said.
Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said the Surat court had no jurisdiction to hear the case against Gandhi till an inquiry was held in the matter. He said Gandhi has been disqualified from Parliament as he is asking questions of the prime minister and demanding answers while seeing eye to eye with him and that is why the government is adopting such “tactics” against him.
Meanwhile, the Assam Assembly witnessed a ruckus after the Congress introduced an adjournment motion to discuss Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha.
Dressed in black and holding placards, the Congress legislators also took out a rally from the MLA quarters to the Assembly in protest against the former party chief’s disqualification from Parliament.
Read all the Latest Politics News here
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)