An Indian court on Thursday (March 23rd) found opposition leader Rahul Gandhi guilty of defamation for his remarks about the surname of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
The case against Gandhi, which earned him these lawsuits, dates back to a rally during the election campaign in 2019, where he said: “Why do all thieves have Modi as their last name? » In his speech, he went on to name runaway Indian diamond tycoon Nirav Modi, banned Indian premier league boss Lalit Modi, and Narendra Modi. The latter is not related to any of the other two.
The defamation case against Gandhi was filed by a leader of the ruling party, Bharatiya Janata, in the state of West Gujarat. The complainant, Purnesh Modi, said Gandhi’s remarks had “vilified the entire Modi community. » Modi is a common surname in the western state of Gujarat.
Rahul Gandhi, who was present at the court in Surat, in the western state of Gujarat – where Mr Modi is from – when the verdict was announced, said his remarks were aimed at “exposing corruption in the country” and were not directed against any community, according to his lawyer, BM Mangukiya. The latter having immediately announced to appeal, Mr. Gandhi will not go to prison immediately.
Modi’s government is ‘cowardly and dictatorial’
Mallikarjun Kharge, chairman of Mr. Gandhi’s Congress party, called Modi’s government a “cowardly and dictatorial”. After the verdict, Rahul Gandhi wrote on Twitter: “My religion is based on truth and non-violence. The truth is my God, and non-violence the means to obtain it. »
In power since 2014, Narendra Modi had been comfortably re-elected for a second term with his Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He is regularly accused of seeking to neutralize his opponents by multiplying legal proceedings.
Coming from the family of the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who gave three prime ministers to India, Rahul Gandhi, 52, is the subject of two other proceedings for defamation. He is also implicated in a case of alleged money laundering, which he disputes.