Rahul Gandhi, India’s top opposition leader and fierce critic of Prime Minister Modi was expelled from Parliament Friday. Rahul Gandhi’s removal from parliament as a result of his finding in a criminal defamation case. Which are the remarks Gandhi made during the 2019 general election campaign.
The action was condemned by opponents of Modi as the latest assault against democracy. And free speech by a ruling government seeking to crush dissent.
A local court from home state of Modi in Gujarat convicted Rahul Gandhi on Thursday for a 2019 speech in which he asked, “Why do all thieves have Modi as their surname?” Gandhi then referred to three well-known and unrelated Modis in the speech. A fugitive Indian diamond tycoon, a cricket executive banned from the Indian Premier League tournament and the prime minister.
Under Indian law, a criminal conviction and prison sentence of two years or more is grounds for expulsion from Parliament, but Gandhi is out on bail for 30 days and plans to appeal.
Opposition lawmakers rallied to his defense on Friday, calling his expulsion a new low for India’s constitutional democracy.
Critics Say Death of Indian Democracy
Modi’s critics say India’s democracy — the world’s largest has been in retreat since he first came to power in 2014. They accuse his populist government of preoccupying itself with pursuing a Hindu nationalist agenda.
Rahul Gandhi lately attacked the government over Modi’s proximity to business tycoon Gautam Adani in Parliament. Who in January was accused by Hindenburg for betting against his company of engaging in fraud and stock-price manipulation. Before his expulsion, Gandhi had called for an investigation into Adani’s businesses. Whose market value has plummeted by tens of billions of dollars. Modi’s party say he has no links with Adani.
“I am fighting for the voice of this country. I am ready to pay any price,” Gandhi, 52, wrote on Twitter.
Late last year Gandhi led a popular “unity march” across wide swaths of India, rallying crowds against the Modi government and the Hindu nationalism that has surged under his leadership.
Opponents blame Modi’s political party for rising hate speech and violence against Muslims and other minorities in recent years. Modi’s power has coincided with increasing assaults on the press and free speech, the jailing of activists and a crackdown on dissent.