Senior Indian opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as a member of the Lok Sabha is a “dark day for democracy in India”, George Abraham, vice-chair of the Indian Overseas Congress, USA said on Friday.
A Gujarat court on Thursday sentenced the former Congress chief to two years in prison for a 2019 defamation case over his controversial "why all thieves have Modi surname" remark. Gandhi’s disqualification notice was issued a day later despite him being granted bail and permission to appeal in the next 30 days.
According to the Indian law a Member of Parliament (MP) is automatically disqualified upon conviction and sentencing of two or more years in jail.
According to Abraham, the disqualification of Gandhi has ended the right to free speech and freedom of Indians everywhere. “Bringing a frivolous court case against a remark in the heat of a political campaign is shameful and not on par with the spirit of the constitution regarding freedom of expression,” he said.
Questioning the integrity of the courts and the Narendra Modi-lec government, Abraham added, “What has just happened is not about Rahul Gandhi but about the future of democracy in India. The institutions Nehru and Ambedkar built with their vision to build a fair and equitable society are being undermined daily by those in power today. All the freedom-loving people everywhere ought to be concerned.”
Gandhi’s disqualification was also condemned by Indian American Congressman Ro Khanna. Terming the act as a "deep betrayal" of Gandhian philosophy, Khanna said on Twitter, “The expulsion of Rahul Gandhi from parliament is a deep betrayal of Gandhian philosophy and India’s deepest values. This is not what my grandfather sacrificed years in jail for.”