India opposition leader Rahul Gandhi loses parliament seat after conviction in defamation case

24 Mar 2023 08:43pm
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NEW DELHI - India's top opposition leader Rahul Gandhi lost his parliament seat on Friday after his conviction in a defamation case.

The 52-year Congress party politician, who represents southern Kerala state's Wayanad constituency, was disqualified as a member of the lower house.

Rahul "stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction", according to a notification.

His Congress party said despite the termination of his parliament membership Rahul will not be deterred in his fight.

"He is fighting for you and this country from the streets to parliament, doing everything possible to save democracy," it said in a tweet.

Rahul during a rally in southern Karnataka state in April 2019 is alleged to have wondered how come "all thieves have Modi as the common surname".

In his speech he referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fugitive diamond tycoon Nirav Modi and former Indian Premier League (IPL) boss Lalit Modi.

A court in Surat city in the state of Gujarat on Thursday found Rahul guilty of defamation and sentenced him to two years in prison.

The case against Rahul was brought by Purnesh Modi, a former Gujarat minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member.
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Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters outside the parliament building on Friday that Rahul has been disqualified to silence him from speaking on issues.

"They do not like the reality Rahul is presenting. They think by keeping Rahul outside their problem will be over, but it won't happen," Kharge said.

Rahul in a parliament speech recently attacked the BJP government over the Adani Group affair, alleging that the conglomerate was getting unfair support in contracts.

Kharge said the opposition will continue to demand a joint parliamentary committee investigation into Adani's business.

Adani's stock value has rapidly shrunk since the group was accused of fraud and market manipulation in a report in January by US-based Hindenburg Research.

Indian opposition parties on Friday again held a protest demanding a parliamentary probe into the matter.

Police detained the marching opposition lawmakers, who carried a banner that read "Democracy in danger", for defying a ban on gatherings in the area.


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