Will Rahul add a new hue to politics?

   By Vijay Darda | 07-08-2023

Supreme Court has stayed the sentence of Rahul Gandhi; will his comeback give a new twist to politics?

The implications of the Supreme Court staying Rahul Gandhi’s sentence are unquestionably wider. This will undoubtedly have an impact on Indian politics. This issue will definitely come up in the forthcoming state Assembly elections and, subsequently, the Lok Sabha elections. The punishment awarded to him was a hot topic of discussion too, but the stay on it is more important because the Supreme Court of the country has raised reasonable questions and made some significant observations.

During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi had commented about the Modi surname during an election meeting in Karnataka. Purnesh Modi, a BJP MLA from Gujarat, had subsequently filed a defamation suit against him. In March 2023, a Gujarat court sentenced Rahul Gandhi to two years in prison. As a result, he lost his membership in the Lok Sabha. This caused apprehensions not just among political parties but also in the minds of the common man. People began to ponder and even argue that if the sentence had been reduced by even a day, his Lok Sabha membership would not have been lost. But it was for the court to decide. In our country, the courts are viewed with trust and respect, and they are also referred to as the temples of justice. Rahul Gandhi sought a relief from the Gujarat High Court. But when the same was denied, he petitioned the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court Bench comprising Justice B R Gavai, Justice P S Narasimha, and Justice Sanjay Kumar heard the petition and stayed Rahul Gandhi’s sentence. The common man has more faith in the Supreme Court, yet a question lingers in the minds of the people: How does the trial court go wrong? Why is an innocent person convicted?

What the Supreme Court said while staying Rahul Gandhi’s sentence is critical. Expressing concern over the trial court’s ruling, the Supreme Court observed that when you impose the maximum sentence, you must offer some justification as to why it should be awarded. In the instance of defamation, Rahul Gandhi was sentenced to a maximum of two years in prison, although the lower court could not explain why the maximum sentence was awarded. The Gujarat High Court did not thoroughly consider it either. The punishment handed down to Rahul Gandhi affects an entire parliamentary constituency, rather than simply one person. If a parliamentary constituency elects its representative, is his absence justified? At the same time, the Supreme Court also observed that Rahul Gandhi’s remark was not in “good taste”. In public, one should exercise extreme caution. How many leaders remember the speeches they deliver? They address 10 to 15 meetings in a day.

I totally agree with the Supreme Court that it is imperative to mind the language. It is important to keep in mind that no one is hurt by the language yet who can dispute that conduct is vital when making accusations in politics. There are numerous examples of how the conduct has altered the course of politics. Famed for her administrative efficiency and firmness and credited with the division of Pakistan into two in the war of 1971, even the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, after declaring emergency in 1975 and suspending the liberty of the common man, was voted out of power in 1977 along with several political veterans. The Janata Party came to power. But what happened after two and a half years when the Janata Party misbehaved with and harassed Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi. The voters ousted the Janata Party and Indiraji was voted back to power. This is the strength of Indian democracy.

I still remember the inhuman treatment meted out to Indira Gandhi. When she landed at Nagpur airport, the toilet of the airport was shut down. Many veteran leaders including the then deputy chief minister of Maharashtra Nashikrao Tirpude, my father veteran freedom fighter Jawaharlal Darda alias Babuji, NKP Salve, Rikhabchand Sharma, Vasant Sathe and Jambuwantrao Dhote were with her. Even after many requests, the toilet was not opened. You will be surprised to know that Indiraji had to go to a farm to attend nature’s call. The news about this inhuman treatment spread like wildfire all over the country. Sanjay Gandhi was dragged to Connaught Place in Delhi. The voters of the country got angry because of this kind of vindictive politics. Our country does not tolerate disrespect towards anyone. People use the weapon of vote to take revenge on vindictive politics.

The sentence awarded to Rahul Gandhi had started generating a sense of sympathy towards him. The Bharatiya Janata Party also recognises this fact very well. Rahul Gandhi has been drawing people to himself in recent years, first with his Bharat Jodo Yatra and later through his mild demeanour. He goes to the houses of ordinary people and eats with them. He does not travel in chartered planes. His opponents are aware of this as well. Regardless of how powerless the Congress may look, its roots go deep throughout the country. In such a case, if the sympathy of the voters goes with Rahul, it will be a cause for concern for the BJP. The stay on Rahul’s sentence must have given BJP leaders Narendra Modi and Amit Shah a lot of relief. The threat of an emotional storm has been avoided. The political landscape after the conviction was different. The scenario would be different now that the sentence has been stayed. When Rahul Gandhi reaches the Parliament, his attitude will determine the direction of the politics of the opposition. Let’s wait to see the next hue of politics!

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