‘I am not afraid’: disqualified Gandhi continues interrogation of Modi



CNN

Leader of the Indian Opposition Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday that he was disqualified from parliament because he asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi difficult questions about his relationship with Gautam Adanifounder of the Adani conglomerate.

The Hindu nationalist party Modi Bharatiya Janata responded that Gandhi was punished by law for a slanderous comment he made in 2019 and it had nothing to do with the Adani issue.

Gandhi, the former president of India’s main opposition Congress Party and still its main leader, lost his seat in parliament on Friday, a day after a trial in the western state of Gujarat. condemned him in a defamation case and sentenced to two years in prison.

The court released him on bail and suspended his prison sentence for 30 days, allowing him to appeal.

A libel case was brought over Gandhi’s comments in a speech that many considered offensive. modi. Gandhi’s party and its allies criticized the court’s decision as politically motivated.

“I was disqualified because the prime minister is afraid of my next speech, he is afraid of the next speech that will be given in Adani,” Gandhi told a press conference at the Congress Party headquarters in New Delhi.

“They don’t want this speech in Parliament, that’s the problem,” Gandhi said in his first public comments after being convicted and disqualified.

Gandhi, 52, a descendant of a dynasty that gave India three prime ministers, did not elaborate on why Modi might not like his next speech.

The once-dominant Gandhi Congress controls less than 10% of the elected seats in the lower house of parliament and has been wiped out by the BJP in two consecutive general elections, most recently in 2019.

The next general election in India is due in mid-2024, and recently Gandhi has been trying to revive the party’s success.

“I am not afraid of this disqualification… I will continue to ask the question, ‘What is the prime minister’s relationship with Mr Adani?’” Gandhi said on Saturday.

Modi’s rivals say the prime minister and the BJP have long-standing ties to the Adani group, dating back nearly two decades when Modi was chief minister of the western state of Gujarat. Gautam Adani is also from Gujarat.

The Congress Party has questioned state-owned firms’ investment in Adani’s companies and the handover of six airports to the group in recent years, although it had no experience in the sector.

Adani’s group has denied receiving any special favors from the government, and government ministers have dismissed such proposals by the opposition as “wild accusations”, saying regulators will look into any violations.

Congress and its allies in the opposition called for a parliamentary inquiry.

“The life of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an open book of honesty,” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a press conference convened in response to Gandhi’s remarks on Saturday.

“We don’t need to protect Adani, the BJP never protects Adani, but the BJP doesn’t persecute anyone either,” Prasad said, accusing Gandhi of habitual lies.