San Francisco: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that he was the first person to be given a “maximum sentence for defamation” and had never imagined something like him being disqualified from the Lok Sabha, could ever happen when he joined politics two decades ago..
Referring to his disqualification from Lok Sabha as a Member of Parliament (MP), Rahul Gandhi who is on a 10-day tour to the US made the remarks at Stanford University in California on Wednesday.
“I don’t think when I joined politics in 2004, I ever imagined what I see going on in our country. It was way outside what I had ever imagined,” Gandhi said.
“I was the first person to be given a criminal sentence for defamation and the maximum sentence to be disqualified from the parliament. I didn’t imagine something like this was possible. But I think it has given me a huge opportunity, probably much bigger than the opportunity I would have gotten sitting in the parliament, that’s just the way politics works,” said Rahul Gandhi.
His remarks come a day after he while addressing the Indian diaspora in San Francisco lashed out at the PM Modi.
Rahul Gandhi in March was disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha after a Surat court sentenced him to two years imprisonment in a defamation case filed against him over his ‘Modi surname’ remark.
#WATCH| Congress’ Rahul Gandhi in response to a question from ‘Bay Area Muslim community’ says,” The way you (Muslims) are feeling attacked,I can guarantee Sikhs,Christians,Dalits,Tribals are feeling the same. What is happening to Muslims in India today happened to Dalits in… pic.twitter.com/sukYLT9Ctp
— ANI (@ANI) May 31, 2023
The decision came pertaining to his remark made in April 2019, where he had said “how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname” at a Lok Sabha election rally at Kolar in Karnataka. The court approved Gandhi’s bail on a surety and stayed the sentence for 30 days to allow him to approach the higher courts.
In his Stanford address, Gandhi said that opposition in India is struggling and the drama started months ago.
“The drama started six months ago. We were struggling….The opposition is struggling in India. A huge financial dominance, institutional capture, struggling to fight the Democratic fight in our country. None of the systems were working,” said Rahul Gandhi.
“Democracy isn’t just about an opposition party. It’s about several institutions that support the opposition. Those institutions were either captured or were not playing the role they were supposed to play,” he added.
On Tuesday, addressing NRI’s in California, Rahul Gandhi took Taking a jibe at PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi said that some groups in India have the “disease” of being under the impression that they know everything.
“In India, we grew up with people of different languages, different religions. And that is what is being attacked. The tradition in India, of people like Gandhi Ji and Guru Nanak Ji, has been that you should not be under the impression of knowing everything. It is a ‘disease’ that some groups of India think that they know everything. Even if they have a conversation with God, they might explain to him,” he said.
Further adding to his remark, the Congress leader said, “And of course, Prime Minister is one of them. If you make him sit with God, he would start explaining to him (God) how the universe works…and God would get confused about what I had created.”
The remarks triggered a backlash from BJP who criticised the Congress leader of using foreign soil to tarnish the image of India.
Rahul Gandhi is on a 10-day visit to the country. He will cover three cities– San Francisco, Washington DC, and New York.