WASHINGTON: A US congressman has called on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “to reverse this decision” regarding Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as a member of parliament terming the act as a “deep betrayal” of democracy.
Gandhi's recent disqualification cost him his Lok Sabha seat after he was convicted by a lower court in a defamation case with a sentence of two years in jail.
While the court granted him bail and suspended his jail sentence for 30 days allowing him to appeal, the disqualification will bar the Congress leader from contesting polls for eight years unless a higher court stays his conviction and sentence.
“The expulsion of Rahul Gandhi from parliament is a deep betrayal of Gandhian philosophy and India’s deepest values,” Congressman Ro Khanna, who is of Indian origin, said in a tweet.
“This is not what my grandfather sacrificed years in jail for,” the US politician said.
Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley in the US House of Representatives, has sought PM Modi’s intervention in this issue. “You have the power to reverse this decision for the sake of Indian democracy,” he added in his other tweet.
However, there has been no official US reaction to the move against Gandhi so far.
On Friday, the United Nations said it is aware of reports about the Congress leader's sentence and that his party plans to appeal the verdict.
Farhan Aziz Haq, the deputy spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, was responding to a question at a press briefing in New York on whether António Guterres was worried about democracy in India.
“I can say that we're aware of the reports regarding the case of Rahul Gandhi. We understand that his party does plan to appeal the decision. That's as much as I can say on that at this stage,” Farhan Haq said.
In Washington, George Abraham, vice-chair of the Indian Overseas Congress, USA, termed Gandhi’s disqualification as a “sad day for democracy” in India.
“It is a sad day for democracy in India. By disqualifying Rahul Gandhi, Modi sarkar is ringing the death knell for the right to free speech and freedom of Indians everywhere,” Abraham was quoted as saying in media reports.
He said that bringing an insignificant court case against a remark in the heat of a political campaign is “shameful”.