RSS Defamation case: Rahul Gandhi pleads not guilty, gets bail
A day after he publicly stepped down as Congress President, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday appeared before a Mumbai court in connection to a defamation case filed by an RSS worker. The worker took Rahul to court for allegedly linking the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh with RSS ideology. Rahul pleaded not guilty and was granted bail on a surety of Rs. 15,000. Here's more.
Context: Lankesh's murder put BJP in the line of fire
For the uninitiated, Lankesh, a staunch critic of BJP-RSS, was murdered right outside her Bengaluru house on September 5, 2017. Soon after the murder, critics of the saffron party pulled out their knives and blamed BJP's "hate-filled propaganda" for her untimely death. Rahul too joined the bandwagon but landed in a soup after lawyer and RSS worker Dhrutiman Joshi filed a case against him.
Rahul was wrong in linking Lankesh's murder with RSS: Complainant
In his complaint, Joshi alleged that within 24 hours of Lankesh's death Rahul had said, "Anybody who speaks against the ideology of the BJP, against the ideology of the RSS, is pressured, beaten, attacked, and even killed". The complainant said Rahul made these comments to score political points and paint a poor image of RSS. Joshi had knocked on court's doors in 2017 itself.
Sitaram Yechury and Sonia Gandhi were also mentioned in complaint
Interestingly, Rahul wasn't the only one who was mentioned in Joshi's complaint. Joshi leveled similar allegations against CPM leader Sitaram Yechury and the then Congress head Sonia Gandhi, though charges against her were dropped. The RSS worker demanded action against Yechury and Rahul under IPC Section 499 (defamation) and Section 500 (punishment for defamation). The court issued summons to Rahul in February.
After hearing, Rahul said he was "enjoying the fight"
For the hearing, Rahul landed in Mumbai on Thursday. The proceedings ended on a good note as he was granted bail on a surety of Rs. 15,000. Former MP Eknath Gaikwad gave his surety. Outside court, Rahul told reporters it was a "battle of ideologies" and he was "enjoying the fight". "I will fight 10 times harder than in last five years," he added.
Rahul spoke about fighting RSS in resignation letter too
Interestingly, Rahul mentioned this "fight of ideologies" in his verbose resignation letter, which was released on Wednesday, too. He said RSS wanted to "capture" the country's institutional structure, and it succeeded in doing so. "I personally fought the Prime Minister, the RSS and the institutions they have captured with all my being. At times, I stood completely alone and am extremely proud of it," he wrote.