‘Rahul was in favour of disqualification…’: Assam CM

Guwahati, March 29 (IANS) Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday criticised the Congress over the issue of disqualification of former INC president Rahul Gandhi from the Lok Sabha following his conviction by a court in a defamation case.
“When the Manmohan Singh government tried to bring an ordinance for giving relief to lawmakers from disqualification after conviction of two or more years of prison term, it was Rahul Gandhi who tore the ordinance in the public and advocated for an immediate disqualification after conviction,” Sarma said in the Assam Assembly while questioning the Congress MLAs in the state “if they consider the former Wayanad MP as their leader or not”.
“At that time, Rahul Gandhi was in favour of immediate disqualification and also asserted that his party follows the same stand. But now, he is either cursing Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla… however, both of them had no role in Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification,” Sarma said in the Assembly.
Sarma also spoke of the series of events in 2013 that led to Rahul Gandhi tearing up the cabinet ordinance.
He said: “In the Lily Thomas vs. Union of India case, the Supreme Court ruled Section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act is ultra vires to the Constitution. Hence, disqualification on conviction is automatic and immediate. In order to provide relief from immediate disqualification, then Law Minister of UPA government, KapilSibal, even moved a review petition.”
However, after the review petition was quashed, the UPA government brought the ordinance, “which was discarded publicly by Rahul Gandhi”, Sarma added.
“The Congress party’s opposition to the immediate disqualification of Rahul is baffling. As it was Rahul Gandhi in 2013 who ‘overruled’ his own government and said, upon conviction for two years or more, disqualification should be immediate, and no interim relief should be given,” he said.
The Assam chief minister further claimed that Rahul Gandhi’s remark, which resulted in his conviction, was directed at “the whole community”.
“Rahul Gandhi had numerous opportunities to recant and apologise during the court proceeding. The court decided against him because he refused to apologise,” the Assam CM said.
Sarma also came down heavily on the state Congress leaders for bringing the motion to discuss Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification in the state assembly.
“Court rulings may go in a person’s favour or even against him. But will you start a protest and seek an adjournment motion simply because a certain ruling was against you?” Sarma asked the Congress leaders.
He further said: “Would the BJP MLAs wear black garments and demonstrate tomorrow if a court convicts me in a case? No. We may appeal the decision to the Sessions Court, High Court, or Supreme Court, but we will never challenge the legal system.”
Sarma said the habit of criticising the judiciary is detrimental to the country’s democracy.
Meanwhile, breaking his silence over Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha following his conviction in a 2019 criminal defamation case, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Wednesday that he will not comment on any issue that is pending in the courts.
Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw launched a blistering attack on Congress leader and disqualified MP Rahul Gandhi, and said that “he thinks that it is his birthright to rule this country”.

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