After Rahul Gandhi's disqualification, Wayanad likely to witness bypoll soon
With former Congress President Rahul Gandhi disqualified as a member of the Parliament (MP) after being convicted of criminal defamation in a 2019 case on Friday, the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala fell vacant and is likely to witness a bypoll by September. To further worsen the situation, Gandhi also risks losing his ability to run for MP for the coming eight years.
Why does this story matter?
- Notably, the case against Gandhi was filed in Surat, Gujarat, the heartland of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
- Before the Congress leader's official disqualification, the saffron brigade had also demanded his suspension from the Lok Sabha for reportedly slandering India during his United Kingdom (UK) visit, where he alleged that Indian democracy was in danger.
How 'Representation of the People Act' triggered Gandhi's removal
As per Section 151A of the Representation of the People Act, bypolls to vacant Parliament and state legislature seats must happen within six months from when they fell vacant. Notably, this Act paved the way for Gandhi's removal as an MP, too. According to its Section 8(3), an MP attracts disqualification the moment they are convicted and sentenced for at least 24 months.
Up to ECI to announce Waynad bypoll dates now
With Gandhi receiving his disqualification notification on Friday, it is now up to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to announce the Wayanad bypoll. As per Lok Ssbha's official website, there are three vacant seats in the House now: Wayanad, Lakshadweep, and Jalandhar. In 2019, the Congress leader lost his Amethi LS seat in Uttar Pradesh and was elected from his second constituency, Wayanad.
Protests erupt in Wayanad after Gandhi's disqualification
After Gandhi's disqualification, Congress workers in parts of Wayanad staged protests and also held a march to the telephone exchange office in Kalpatta. Besides this, protests march were also organized by congress workers in Meenangadi, Mananthavady, and Sulthan Bathery. As per the news outlet Mint, workers of the United Democratic Front (UDF) blocked the road in Mananthavady town for more than 30 minutes.
Congress's reaction after Gandhi's disqualification
On Friday, the grand old party also announced a nationwide agitation against Gandhi's Lok Sabha disqualification, claiming that the Centre acted with lightning speed to "gag" him. It also alleged the BJP-led central government is systematically acting against the opposition unity, PTI reported. Soon after the Lok Sabha Secretariat's announcement, the Congress leadership huddled at the party headquarters and discussed the way forward.
Kejriwal reacts to Gandhi row
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday reacted to Gandhi's disqualification by saying, "He (Narendra Modi) can't run the government, but his ego is at the top." "I want to appeal to all leaders of BJP that under PM Modi's leadership, the country is being destroyed (sic)," Kejriwal was quoted as saying by the news agency ANI.
Adityanath attacks Congress for promoting terrorism, Naxalism
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP leader Yogi Adityanath accused Congress of doing politics to divide India and promoting terrorism and Naxalism for its political benefits. Adityanath's remarks came during a public meeting organized at Sampurnanand Sanskrit University, Varanasi, after the foundation stone laying and inauguration ceremony of projects worth Rs. 1,780 crore in the presence of PM Modi, a government statement said.
2019 defamation case against Gandhi
In 2019, attacking PM Narendra Modi, who was running for a second prime ministerial term at the time, Gandhi said in Karnataka's Kolar district, "Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi... How come all the thieves have Modi as a common surname?" Purnesh Modi, a BJP legislator from Surat (West), took offense and filed a complaint, accusing the Congress leader of defaming the Modi community.
Know about Gandhi's remarks in London that triggered row earlier
After Gandhi attacked the Modi-led Union government during his February 28 address in London, a massive row erupted in India. During his lecture on Learning to Listen in the 21st Century at Cambridge University, the Congress leader claimed that opposition leaders were being spied on using Israeli spyware Pegasus. He also added that there was "an attack on the basic structure of Indian democracy."