This Is A Fight Against ‘Mitrkaal’: Rahul GandhiApr 3, 2023 | Pratirodh Bureau
Soon after a Surat court granted bail to Rahul Gandhi in a 2019 defamation case, the Congress leader on Monday said this is a fight against “Mitrkaal” to save democracy and truth is his weapon in this struggle.
Gandhi was convicted by a lower court in Surat and sentenced to prison for two years last month for a speech in which he linked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last name with two fugitive businessmen, remarking how the “thieves” shared the same last name.
Minutes after the hearing on Monday, Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi, “This is a fight against ‘Mitrkaal’ to save democracy. In this struggle, truth is my weapon, and truth is my support!”
Gandhi has been taking the ‘Mitrakaal’ jibe at the central government, accusing it of working to benefit its “crony capitalist friends”. A sessions court on Monday granted bail to Gandhi in the defamation case and will hear the matter on April 13, an official said.
The 52-year-old Congress leader reached Surat this afternoon via a scheduled commercial flight along with sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and proceeded to the sessions court to file an appeal against the ruling of the lower court.
The lower court had granted him bail for 30 days to appeal the verdict. A day later, he was disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leaders from Maharashtra on Monday claimed vehicles of the party workers headed towards Surat to extend support to Rahul Gandhi were stopped by the Gujarat Police.
Navsari superintendent of police, Karan Raj Vaghela, said a total of 87 persons were detained, including 51 from Maharashtra, when they were on their way to Surat, traveling in at least a dozen vehicles to support their leader Rahul Gandhi.
“We detained 87 persons at around 11 am and released them at 4 pm. We held them out of concern over the law and order situation in Surat where they were headed,” he told PTI.
Earlier in the day, former Maharashtra minister Balasaheb Thorat said several leaders and workers of Congress were asked to pull over, and the Gujarat Police was ensuring they do not capture videos.
Similar allegations were made by Mumbai Congress president Bhai Jagtap and former Maharashtra minister Yashomati Thakur.
Congressmen from various parts of the country tried to reach Surat to support Gandhi.
“From Maharashtra also, Congress leaders and workers were going to Gujarat. Gandhi is fighting for the country, fighting for democracy, fighting to save the Constitution,” Thorat said in a social media post.
The vehicles of Congress leaders and workers were stopped, they were asked to pull over, and police were ensuring they do not capture the videos, claimed Thorat. In a nutshell, the Gujarat Police was ensuring Congressmen do not reach Surat under any circumstances, and this is condemnable, he said. “In a democracy, people will gather, they will express their views, but unfortunately their voice is being suppressed,” Thorat claimed.
Congress MLA Yashomati Thakur, who was also headed towards Surat, alleged they were being subjected to suppression for extending support to Gandhi. Thakur claimed the Gujarat Police stopped her vehicle multiple times and inspected it in the name of security checks.
“They are the same police who facilitated some MLAs from Maharashtra who went to Surat to bring down the then (MVA) government, but are now creating obstructions for us,” she alleged.
Thakur said when she questioned the police over frequent checks, she was told her interaction was being seen live in Gandhinagar (the capital of Gujarat). “I even told them that they can show the live feed of their action to the PMO,” she said.
“We treat all religions equally and stand for the Constitution. I also told them that they can put me in jail, but I will definitely go to Surat,” the former minister said. In other videos shared by Thakur, she was seen confronting the Gujarat Police.
“When Gujarat MLAs visit Maharashtra, you need to check them as well. We are not afraid of you people. Don’t you people (police) catch liquor being transported to Gujarat? You also need to tell us how the liquor reached Gujarat,” she added. “Have you put restrictions on the movement of people? If our leader is visiting there (Gujarat), should we not visit him?” she asked a police official.
Responding to her questions, an unidentified official in uniform asked, “Should we not check vehicles? We also have to perform our duty.” Thakur replied saying the police can do their duty but they should do it respectfully.