Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has caught in a whirl of backfire from Maharashtra after his remark about Hindutva ideologue Savarkar didn't go well in the state. Rahul Gandhi was recently got disqualified as a Lok Sabha MP after a Surat court in Gujarat convicted him in a criminal defamation case with two-year incarceration. While the prison sentence has been suspended for thirty days, Rahul Gandhi is working out to overturn the conviction.
Rahul Gandhi was representing the Wayanad parliamentary constituency in Kerala and recently, the seat was declared vacant after the Congress leader was disqualified as an MP by the Lok Sabha Secretariat in the wake of his conviction with two-year jail term in a criminal defamation case. Rahul Gandhi's disqualification has given new stage for the opposition to stay united and to attack the ruling Modi regime.
The case was pertaining to Rahul Gandhi's 'Modi surname' remark that he made during an election rally in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Congress leader asked why all the thieves have Modi as their surname and quoted Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi, and Narendra Modi. BJP MLA in Gujarat Purnesh Modi claimed that Gandhi had defamed the entire Modi community and lodged a plaint in his home state. Based on his complaint, a criminal defamation case was filed against Rahul Gandhi under sections 499 and 500 of the IPC.
The case was heard by Chief Magistrate Court in Surat, Gujarat and last week, judge HH Varma pronounced the verdict that Rahul Gandhi was found guilty in the case and the court awarded him a two-year prison sentence. To let Gandhi appeal, the court had suspended the prison sentence for 30 days but the conviction wasn't overturned. As Rahul Gandhi was convicted with two-year jail term, he was disqualified as an MP under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
In the midst of political turmoil with his disqualification sparking a new war between the Congress and the BJP, Rahul Gandhi, after getting disqualified, recently held a press conference during which he responded the BJP's demand of seeking his apology for the statements he made against the Modi regime during his UK visit. Responding to the demand, Rahul Gandhi scathingly said, "My name is not Savarkar. It is Gandhi and Gandhi never offers apology."
His remarks about Savarkar wasn't received well by the Hindutva camps including BJP and its yester ally Shiv Sena - led by Uddhav Thackeray, which now has an alliance with Congress and the Nationalist Congress party in Maharashtra. BJP has demanded Rahul Gandhi to issue an apology for his remark against Savarkar and Thackeray had also come down hard on the Congress leader and said that his outfit won't tolerate any insult of the freedom fighter, which sparked a debate of a rift in the alliance.
The political saga in Maharashtra turned the attention of Congress leadership and his Savarkar remark put Rahul Gandhi in trouble. Earlier, Savarkar's grandson warned Rahul Gandhi that an FIR will be filed if he fails to apologise. Savarkar's grandson Ranjit Savarkar recently said, "I will file an FIR against Rahul Gandhi if he does not apologise for his statement on Savarkar."
Ranjit also said that Uddav Thackeray and his associate Sanjay Raut may have respect for Savarkar but if they show support to Rahul Gandhi, their respect won't make any sense. "They should go ahead and demand Rahul Gandhi to apologise for his statements on Savarkar. Sharad Pawar ji also has a lot of respect for Savarkar and he should also ask for his apology for his statements", Ranjit added.
As Rahul Gandhi's remarks triggered tensions in Maharashtra and while it was said that the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance of Congress, Thackeray's Shiv Sena, and Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party is cracking up in the state, Sharad Pawar came into picture to mitigate the furore and to restore peace. After Pawar held talks with the allied party leaders, it was reported that Congress has agreed to tone down its criticism of Savarkar.
In a meeting of opposition leaders convened by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday, Sharad Pawar raised the issue and made it clear that targeting Savarkar, who is a revered figure in Maharashtra, would not help the opposition alliance in the state. The meeting was also attended by Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Pawar further highlighted Rahul Gandhi that Savarkar was never a member of RSS and said that the real fight of the opposition parties is with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP.
The Thackeray camp of Shiv Sena boycotted the meeting to register their protest against Rahul Gandhi for his Savarkar remark. After realizing that his remark has got backfired, Rahul Gandhi on Monday assured the opposition leaders that he will respect the sentiments of the allied parties. The recent developments have exhibited that tensions between the opposition have been subdued and that the friction has been resolved.
After the meeting, Congress party's general secretary KC Venugopal said, "We will sort it out among overselves." On Wednesday - March 29, Thackeray's associate Sanjay Raut said that the conflict over Rahul Gandhi's 'Savarkar' remark has been resolved and that he spoke to the Gandhis about several important issues. Speaking to The Indian Express, Raut said, "Everything is fine. Don't worry and the matter has been resolved."
Raut also took to Twitter and wrote, "Met Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi today. Many important issues were also discussed in detail. Everything is fine and nothing to worry about." Raut stated that the Thackeray camp didn't attend the meeting convened by Kharge after raising their concerns over Rahul Gandhi's remark about Savarkar and further told The Indian Express, "But there is and will be Opposition unity in Maharashtra as well as the country. We have got results of the concerns we have expressed."