For calling Modis "thieves", Rahul pleads not guilty in court
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi returned to India from his trip to Cambodia on Thursday, and his first stop was a court in Surat where he appeared in connection to a defamation case. He was dragged to court for calling all "Modis" thieves during an election campaign before Lok Sabha polls. Rahul pleaded not guilty before the judge. Here's what went down.
What is the case all about?
In Karnataka's Kolar district, while launching an attack at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was seeking a second term back then, Rahul said, "Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi... how come they all have Modi as common surname?" Taking offense, BJP MLA from Surat (West), Purnesh Modi, filed a complaint alleging he defamed the entire community. IPC sections dealing with criminal defamation were evoked.
Rahul said he's aware of charges, while pleading not guilty
During the hearing, Rahul told the court he knew what charges were leveled against him and pleaded not guilty. His lawyer Kirit Panwala filed an application to excuse him from personal appearances in the future, which was objected to by Purnesh's lawyer Hasmukh Lalwala. December 10 was fixed as the next date of hearing and Rahul was exempt from an appearance.
Outside court, Congress supporters waved party flags
A score of Congress supporters gathered outside the court to support Rahul, who resigned from the post of party's chief after the poll debacle. He tweeted, "I am grateful for the love & support of the Congress workers who have gathered here to express their solidarity with me. (sic)" The official handle of Congress also tweeted such attempts to silence truth will never work.
Case was filed to silence me: Rahul
I am in Surat today to appear in a defamation case filed against me by my political opponents, desperate to silence me.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 10, 2019
I am grateful for the love support of the Congress workers who have gathered here to express their solidarity with me. #SatyamevJayate pic.twitter.com/HZmAcEhciu
Earlier, Congress leader said BJP should be open to criticism
Obviously, Congress is standing with its former boss. Congress' Shaktisinh Gohil said the ruling party should be open to criticism. "Rahulji had said Lalit Modi and Nirav Modi are thieves and Narendra Modi is a failure. BJP connected his statement to the Modi community and insulted them," the leader from Bihar said. Earlier, Ahmed Patel said whatever court decides would be respected.
Rahul has to deal with string of defamation cases
Separately, Rahul will be appearing at a court in Ahmedabad in connection to another defamation case. This one has been filed by Ajay Patel, the chairman of Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank. He went to court after Rahul accused the bank of swapping demonetized notes to the tune of Rs. 750 crore. Another defamation case has been filed for making poor remarks against Amit Shah.