The Congress party has announced to begin country-wide protests against the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi as Lok Sabha MP on Friday.
“Beginning Monday, the Congress will start a series of agitations across the country at block, district, state and national level to protest against Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha,” said party’s general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh after the meeting of senior Congress leaders at AICC headquarters in the national capital which was called to thrash out the party’s future strategy post Rahul’s disqualification.
Rahul’s disqualification came a day after a Surat court convicted him in a 2019 criminal defamation case.
Also read: Rahul disqualification: Will keep fighting, says Cong; BJP terms action lawful
“The agitations will highlight how Rahul was disqualified as part of a planned strategy because, from 2014, he has been consistently raising his voice against the politics and policies of the Modi government,” Ramesh said.
Acknowledging the Opposition parties’ condemnation of the move, Ramesh said the Congress will reach out to the leaders to work towards Opposition unity.
“The Congress also recognises that many Opposition parties, including some who had stayed away from recent efforts to unitedly counter the government during Parliament, have strongly condemned the disqualification and we thank all of them,” he said.
“The Congress will be getting in touch with all these leaders and work towards Opposition unity. The Parliament session saw like-minded parties come together on the floor of the House and now we will make efforts to bring them together politically outside Parliament also,” Ramesh added.
He said that the finer details of the party’s planned agitations are being worked out by senior party leaders right now. A detailed plan may be released tomorrow (March 25), he added.
Also read: Rahul’s disqualification lawful, not political; is Cong questioning court?: BJP leaders
Meanwhile, it was also announced that Rahul Gandhi will hold a press conference tomorrow at 1 pm.
Earlier in the day, reacting to his disqualification, Rahul said he is ready to pay the price for speaking up. “I am fighting for the voice of my country. I am ready to pay the price,” he tweeted in Hindi.
मैं भारत की आवाज़ के लिए लड़ रहा हूं।
मैं हर कीमत चुकाने को तैयार हूं।
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 24, 2023
Announcing his disqualification, the Lok Sabha Secretariat in a notification said that it was effective from March 23, the day of his conviction.
“Consequent upon his conviction by the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat…Rahul Gandhi, Member of Lok Sabha representing the Wayanad Parliamentary Constituency of Kerala stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction i.e. 23 March, 2023,” the notification read.
The court in Surat on Thursday sentenced Rahul to two years in jail in a defamation case filed on a complaint by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi for his alleged remark, “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?”
Also read: Rahul’s disqualification: ‘Dictatorship, death blow to democracy’, say Oppn leaders
As per rules, the Congress leader would not be able to contest elections for eight years unless a higher court stays his conviction and sentence.
Rahul attended Lok Sabha proceedings in the morning session before the Lok Sabha Secretariat issued the notification. Earlier in the morning, he also participated in a meeting of party MPs in the Parliament complex.