Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been sentenced to two years in prison by a court in Gujarat's Surat in a 2019 criminal defamation case. He was found guilty of defaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surname during a rally in Karnataka ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Gandhi had said, “How come all thieves have the common surname Modi?” targeting the PM over his last name which he shares with fugitive businessmen Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi. However, Gandhi was granted bail and his sentence was suspended for 30 days to let him appeal the decision.
Gandhi Quoted Mahatma Gandhi in His First Comment after Verdict
In his first comment after the verdict, Rahul Gandhi quoted Mahatma Gandhi, tweeting in Hindi, “My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God, non-violence the means to get it.” He arrived in Surat earlier in the day for the verdict and was received by top leaders of the Congress's Gujarat unit. Supporters and members of the party turned out at various spots in the city as a show of strength and support for Gandhi.
Congress Will Not Bow before the Dictatorship of BJP
Posters extolling Rahul Gandhi as ‘Sher-e-Hindustan' (Lion of India) and placards declaring that the “Congress will not bow before the dictatorship of the BJP” were displayed by supporters and members of the party. Senior Congress leader and MLA Arjun Modhwadia said, “Truth is put to test and is harassed, but truth alone prevails. Several false cases have been filed against Gandhi, but he will emerge from all these. We will get justice.”
BJP MLA Filed the Complaint Against Gandhi
The complaint against Rahul Gandhi was filed by BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi, who alleged that Gandhi had defamed the entire Modi community during his poll rally in 2019. Purnesh Modi was a minister in the first tenure of the Bhupendra Patel government and was re-elected from the Surat West Assembly seat in the December elections.
Gandhi's Lawyer Argued the Court Proceedings Were Flawed
Rahul Gandhi's lawyer argued that the court proceedings were “flawed” from the beginning. The lawyer also argued that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and not MLA Purnesh Modi, should have been the complainant in the case because the PM was the main target of Gandhi's speech. Gandhi had last appeared before the Surat court in the case in October 2021 to record his statement.