regular-article-logo Thursday, 08 June 2023

Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha ouster jolts anti-Congress Opposition

It is an adverse time for democracy and constitutional values, says Telangana CM K. Chandrashekhar Rao

Anita Joshua New Delhi Published 25.03.23, 04:14 AM
Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi File Photo

Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha has brought the bulk of the Opposition parties — even those that are attempting a non-Congress alliance — on the same page, at least for the day.

Some leaders said the disqualification had sounded the death knell of democracy in India: “RIP”.


Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, whose party has been particularly critical of the Congress after losing the Sagardighi seat in the by-election earlier this month, took the lead among those Opposition parties that maintain a distance from the Congress.

“In PM Modi’s New India, Opposition leaders have become the prime target of BJP! While BJP leaders with criminal antecedents are inducted into the cabinet, Opposition leaders are disqualified for their speeches. Today, we have witnessed a new low for our constitutional democracy," Mamata tweeted.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is always on a collision course with the Congress, raised the issue in the Assembly during the discussion on the motion of thanks to the lieutenant governor’s address. “How have you all terrorised the country, what state have you brought it to? Was the struggle for independence fought for this? Now you have ended Rahul Gandhi’s membership. You are afraid, you turned out to be big cowards,” Kejriwal said.

Outside, he told the media that the BJP’s agenda was to destroy the Opposition and create a one-party rule. “This is authoritarianism," Kejriwal said, urging everyone to unite against the BJP.

He retweeted two tweets of Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, detailing the chronology of the defamation case and the changes made by the complainant in his stance since 2019.

Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, who, too, has been attempting a non-Congress alliance, said: “Today is a black day in the history of Indian democracy. Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Parliament is the height of Narendra Modi’s arrogance and dictatorship….

“It is an adverse time for democracy and constitutional values. The Modi regime has overshadowed the Emergency. Harassment of Opposition leaders has become a routine…. This is not the time for conflicts between parties.”

Tamil Nadu chief minister and DMK leader M.K. Stalin, who has time and again pitched for Rahul as the candidate for Prime Minister, described the disqualification before he could go for an appeal as a death knell for democracy. “The metamorphosis of the BJP’s vindictive politics into autocracy is happening at an alarming pace. If one goes by history, it is very clear what is in store for such autocrats,” Stalin said.

He demanded the revocation of the disqualification and said the development was a clear indication of how much the Modi government is scared of Rahul. “The impact created by brother Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is also a reason for the BJP’s fear.”

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said it was condemnable that the BJP was now using the criminal defamation route to target Opposition leaders and disqualify them as done with Rahul now. “This comes on top of the gross misuse of ED/CBI against the Opposition. Resist and defeat such authoritarian assaults."

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan weighed in though the Congress-led alliance is the principal challenger of the Left-led ruling front in the state. “The hasty decision to disqualify @RahulGandhi as a member of the Lok Sabha is yet another episode in @BJP4India’s authoritarian rampage against Indian democracy. This brazen assault is an insult to our democratic values and can’t be overlooked. It must be unequivocally denounced,” Vijayan tweeted.

Former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who leads his own group of the Shiv Sena, was quoted by ANI as saying: “Calling a thief a thief has become a crime in our country. Thieves & looters are still free & Rahul Gandhi was punished. This is a direct murder of democracy. All govt systems are under pressure. This is the beginning of the end of dictatorship. Only the fight has to be given direction.”

“The disqualification of Mr Rahul Gandhi and Mr Faizal a few months ago as MPs of the Lok Sabha are against the basic tenets of the constitution, where democratic values are being curtailed. This is condemnable and against the very principles on which the constitution is based," tweeted NCP chief Sharad Pawar, drawing attention to the disqualification of his party’s Lakshwadeep MP Mohammad Faizal earlier this year following his conviction in an attempt to murder case.

“How bizarre and obnoxious. Shamelessness has got a new address. Yet don’t say democracy is dead in India. Parties in opposition must see that it is not about ‘elections’ alone but the fight must be to resuscitate democracy,” tweeted RJD’s Manoj Jha.

In a separate tweet with the Lok Sabha’s disqualification notification, he said: “ Latest Medical Update... Democracy is declared dead... RIP.”

Sudheendra Kulkarni, who worked in former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s office and was a strategist for veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani, tweeted: “Vinash kaale vipareet buddhi!”

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