‘Conspiracy’: Opposition leaders unite over Rahul Gandhi’s conviction – Who said what

“Why all the thieves, be it Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi or Narendra Modi, have Modi in their names,” Gandhi had allegedly said during the rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi arrives at Surat District Court for hearing of a criminal defamation case filed against him over his alleged 'Modi surname' remark, in Surat, Thursday, March 23, 2023. The court convicted Gandhi in the case. (PTI Photo)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was on Thursday sentenced to two years’ imprisonment by the Surat District court in a 2019 defamation case over his ‘Modi surname’ remarks made during an election rally in Karnataka. Following his conviction, the Wayanad MP was also granted bail and his sentencing stayed for a period of 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court.

“Why all the thieves, be it Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi or Narendra Modi, have Modi in their names,” Gandhi had allegedly said during the rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Reacting to the conviction, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called it a “conspiracy” which was being hatched to “eliminate” non-BJP leaders and parties.

“A conspiracy is being hatched to eliminate non-BJP leaders and parties by prosecuting them,” Kejriwal said. “We have differences with the Congress, but it is not right to implicate Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case like this. It is the job of the public and the opposition to ask questions. We respect the court but disagree with the decision,” the AAP supremo added.

“Condemning the “non-stop targeting of Opposition leaders”, Shiv Sena (Uddhav) faction leader Priyanka Chaturvedi, tweeted, “With all due respect to the judiciary, Sh. Rahul Gandhi’s conviction is excessive and will have far-reaching consequences. This non-stop targeting of opposition leaders is condemnable & it won’t silence the voices who speak for the people and refuse to be ji huzoor of the government. (sic)”

Quoting a line said by Mahatma Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, meanwhile, tweeted, “My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God, non-violence is the means to get it.”

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said that the party will fight the case in adherence to law. “He has been granted bail. We knew from the beginning because they kept changing judges. We believe in law, and judiciary and we will fight against this as per law,” Kharge said.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that “her brother has never been afraid” and will “continue to speak the truth”.

“The whole machinery of scared power is trying to suppress the voice of Rahul Gandhi by every means. My brother has never been afraid, nor will he ever be. He has lived speaking the truth, and will continue to speak the truth. He will continue to raise the voice of the people of the country,” she wrote in a tweet.

“The power of truth and the love of crores of countrymen are with him,” she added.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that Rahul Gandhi is the only person who can compete with the NDA government, and further alleged that central institutions are being “misused”.

“We keep saying our democracy is in danger as there is pressure on judiciary, ECI, ED and they’re all misused. All decisions are made under influence. Such comments are common… Rahul Gandhi is a courageous man and only he can compete with NDA government,” Gehlot said.


The case against the Congress leader was filed by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi, who “welcomed” the court’s judgment.

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma held him guilty under Indian Penal Code sections 499 and 500. As per the Representation of the People Act, a person sentenced to imprisonment of two years or more shall be disqualified “from the date of such conviction” and remain disqualified for another six years after serving time.

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First published on: 23-03-2023 at 13:07 IST