Could Rahul Gandhi have saved his Lok Sabha seat? What Union minister says
Union minister Athawale said the BJP and the NDA had protested over Rahul Gandhi's remarks but "there was no effect on Rahul Gandhi".
Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Friday claimed Rahul Gandhi would not have been disqualified from Lok Sabha had he apologised for his alleged critical remarks about the Indian democracy.
Gandhi is a senior leader and was the president of the Congress, he should have known he should not speak "against the country" during a visit abroad, Athawale told reporters here.
"Had Rahul Gandhi apologised, the situation would not have reached his disqualification," he said.
The minister of state for social justice and empowerment also said that Gandhi had "insulted" a large group of people with his remark, "How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?"
"Someone moved to the court, which awarded him (Gandhi) two years punishment," he said.
Athawale said the BJP and the NDA had protested over Gandhi's remarks but "there was no effect on Rahul Gandhi".
The Congress leader was disqualified as a Lok Sabha member after a Surat court convicted him in a 2019 criminal defamation case and sentenced him to two years in jail. Gandhi has been given bail and 30 days to appeal against the order in a higher court.
Congress has said it will fight the case "legally and politically".
"The decision taken by our Speaker Om Birla is right. It was necessary to punish Rahul Gandhi. The issue of the court is a separate thing," Athawale said, justifying the Lok Sabha Secretariat's decision to disqualify Gandhi.
"Rahul Gandhi is the leader of Congress. He has remained president of the party. Congress party has remained in power for 60-70 years. Rahul Gandhi should have known that he should not speak against the country after travelling outside the country. We have a democracy," the Union minister said.
The democracy in the country is very powerful, he said, adding that the government of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee fell by just one vote in 1999.
"The country is governed by the Constitution given to us by Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar," he said.
During a visit to the UK earlier this month, Gandhi had alleged that the structures of Indian democracy are under "brutal attack" and there is a full-scale assault on the institutions of the country.
His comments triggered a major political row in India and the BJP launched a offensive against him demanding a public apology from him for what it alleged has insulted the country and its institutions on foreign soil.
- Rahul Gandhi