In the midst of high political activities in the country from paralyzing parliament to Rahul Gandhi's disqualification as an MP, the Election Commission (EC) is all set to announce the dates of the assembly polls in Karnataka on Wednesday - March 29. Though the election schedule for Karnataka is keenly expected, the top question on the table is whether the Election Commission will announce the by-election for Wayanad parliamentary constituency.
Wayanad constituency in Kerala was in Rahul Gandhi's pocket 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.
As the Congress leader is yet to appeal against the court verdict, he is in a risk of getting banned from contesting in the elections for eight years (two years of his sentence + another six years) as per the act. Earlier this week, the Lok Sabha Secretariat declared Wayanad seat vacant, which sparked a nationwide question whether the by-election will be announced for Wayanad. If Rahul Gandhi gets a verdict of overturning the conviction from a higher court, he can resume his office as Lok Sabha MP of Wayanad, but until that, the seat should stay off from the by-election.
The events around Rahul Gandhi, from his disqualification, announcing his seat vacant, to asking him to vacate the official bungalow, had happened swiftly and drawing the BJP's covert role in these events, the opposition parties have been slamming the Modi regime on its move to ban Rahul Gandhi from entering the parliament as he has been troubling the Modi government through his scathing questions about the Modi-Adani affair and how Adani is getting benefitted by the centre.
Rahul Gandhi stands firm that he will keep questioning the Modi regime even though he gets disqualified permanently. In the midst of national protests from the Congress party, all eyes are on Rahul Gandhi on how he is going to challenge and overturn the legal and political hurdles ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Prelude to the big national battle, both BJP and Congress will directly lock horns in several assembly polls - one of which is BJP ruling Karnataka.
Karnataka's current assembly hits its deadline in May and it has been reported that the state will go for a crucial assembly polls in April. As both the parties are beefing up their campaigns in the state, the Election Commission will announce the date of assembly polls in Karnataka at 11.30 am on Wednesday. Several reports have opined that the Election Commission will likely announce the date for by-election in Wayanad parliamentary constituency and such announcement will further dim Rahul Gandhi's prospects to resume his one-year-left term as a Lok Sabha MP.