The order quashes for now the Congress leader’s hope of returning to parliament and contesting national election due next year.
A high court in the western Indian state of Gujarat has rejected an appeal by opposition leader Rahul Gandhi to suspend his conviction in a defamation case.
Friday’s order quashes for now the Congress leader’s hope of returning to parliament, contesting national elections due next year.
Gandhi can now take his appeal to a larger bench of the Gujarat High Court and then to the Supreme Court, his last option.
VIDEO | “We believe this decision (by the Gujarat HC) is wrong on the basis of facts and laws,” says Congress leader Pawan Kumar Bansal on Gujarat HC rejecting Rahul Gandhi’s plea seeking stay on conviction over his Modi surname remark. pic.twitter.com/pNThIfcAbG
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) July 7, 2023
Gandhi was convicted in March this year in a case brought by a state legislator from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after comments he made in 2019 were deemed to be insulting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other people surnamed Modi.
The legislator who shares the prime minister’s surname, which is common in Gujarat, accused the opposition leader of defamation over a speech in which he asked, “Why do all thieves have Modi as their surname?”
Gandhi had 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 (IPL), and the prime minister.
The BJP legislator who filed the case is not related to the prime minister or the other two Modis mentioned by Gandhi.
The 53-year-old scion of the Congress party was sentenced to two years imprisonment, but the jail term was put on hold and he was given bail.
Gandhi is a fierce Modi critic and the prime minister’s main challenger in the 2024 polls.
But he risks losing his eligibility to run in elections for the next eight years if a court does not overturn his conviction and two-year sentence.