Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified from parliament due to a criminal defamation conviction stemming from a political speech he gave prior to the 2019 election. While I personally believe his comments were innocuous at best and poorly executed, I am not a judge or someone in a position of power with a large following, so my opinion carries little weight. However, as an ordinary citizen of this great nation, I have a vested interest in the state of our democracy, whether it functions properly or not.

Let’s assume that Rahul’s comments were indeed disparaging for the sake of argument. The Modis, a religious community of which Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi – both of whom are fugitives – are prominent members, have been deeply affected. You might ask, “why are they considered prominent?” Well, think about it. How many Modis do you know? These two individuals are easily recognisable and come to the top of the list. Of course, they don’t quite enjoy the same level of notoriety as Modi (the original, as he likes to call himself), the supreme leader. However, everyone in this country is aware of who these Modis are and what they stand for. This is no secret.

People like us, who are keen followers of the news, can easily recall at least fifty instances where ministers from the ruling party, as well as those aspiring to hold office, have made outrageously shameful comments. Despite the severity of their words, they are seldom held accountable for inciting hatred or promoting violence, and they often get away with distorting the truth to gain political advantage. In contrast, Rahul is being penalised for a seemingly innocuous comment. It’s perplexing that while some politicians blatantly spread misinformation and engage in hate speech, a harmless remark made by Rahul is being treated as a grave offence. It’s a shame that our political discourse has come to this.

The pressing question that arises is this: Why is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) so fixated on Rahul Gandhi, or what is it that they fear about him (depending on one’s political leanings)? It’s a valid question given the amount of attention that Rahul garners from the BJP, especially when there are more pressing issues that demand the ruling party’s attention. Perhaps, it’s because Rahul represents a formidable opposition that threatens the BJP’s hold on power. Or it could be that the BJP perceives Rahul as a threat to their brand of politics, and they are determined to discredit him at every turn. Whatever the reason, the BJP’s obsession with Rahul seems to go beyond what’s necessary and, at times, borders on the absurd. It’s a phenomenon that deserves closer scrutiny, given its implications for our democracy.

As you ponder this question, I urge you to contemplate the sheer amount of time and resources that the BJP has dedicated over the past fifteen years to labelling Rahul Gandhi as a “Pappu” or a dimwit. Despite branding him as a lightweight, the BJP’s most influential figures relentlessly attack Rahul and work tirelessly to undermine him at every opportunity. It’s worth noting that this strategy seems to be at odds with the BJP’s stated goal of focusing on governance and development. Instead, the party appears to be more preoccupied with discrediting its opponents than delivering on its promises. This raises the question: Why is the BJP investing so much effort and money into maligning Rahul, despite labelling him as an inconsequential figure? The answer to this query could potentially shed light on the BJP’s political motivations and its approach to opposition politics.

Regardless of one’s personal views on the Congress party and its flaws, it’s difficult to deny that Rahul Gandhi has emerged as a prominent voice against Modi’s dominance. He fearlessly and consistently speaks out against the ruling party in a bold and assertive manner. For instance, he raised concerns about the controversial Rafale deal and criticised the government’s handling of the economy. Rahul has also been vocal in his opposition to the notion of “Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan,” which he sees as closely tied to Modi’s vision for India. He played a key role in the “Chowkidar chor hai” campaign, and most recently, he has been publicly challenging the PM to meet his gaze as he poses sharp questions about the alleged collusion between Modi and Adani. Rahul is asking tough questions about how much support Modi or his government has provided to Adani, who has risen to become one of the world’s wealthiest individuals. Rahul’s unwavering determination to hold the government accountable for its actions and policies has positioned him as a formidable opponent to the ruling party. It remains to be seen whether his efforts will bear fruit, but his actions have undoubtedly made a significant impact on the political landscape of India.

There is a prevailing belief among many that Modi is a despot, and as history has shown, dictators are not known for taking kindly to criticism. It’s no secret that Modi and his government have faced a fair share of opposition and scrutiny, and the way they have dealt with dissenting voices has been a topic of intense debate. Critics argue that the government’s response to criticism has been heavy-handed and authoritarian, reminiscent of the tactics employed by despots in the past. However, supporters of Modi contend that he is merely taking decisive action to ensure that his government’s policies and vision for India are not obstructed by dissent. Regardless of where one falls on this spectrum, it’s clear that the current government’s approach to criticism has been a point of contention and a cause for concern for many.

Modi has demonstrated a remarkable ability to deflect opposition attacks, including those launched by Rahul Gandhi. However, he is undoubtedly aware that the allegations surrounding Adani cannot be brushed aside so easily. The Hindenburg report brought to light many of Adani’s questionable practices, and since then, a steady stream of damaging revelations have continued to emerge. The most recent of these came in the form of a detailed report by the Indian Express, which raised serious questions about the funding that Adani Group received for a defence contract it won without any prior qualifications. These revelations have put Modi and his government in a difficult position, as they have long been accused of being too cosy with Adani and other wealthy industrialists. While it remains to be seen how this situation will ultimately play out, one thing is clear: the allegations against Adani have struck a nerve and have the potential to cause significant damage to Modi’s government if they are not addressed adequately.

Upon returning from his highly successful four-month-long Bharat Jodo yatra, Rahul Gandhi wasted no time in raising important questions of national interest. Through his journey across the country, he proved not only to the world but also to the Indian voters that he possesses the physical and mental fortitude required to tackle the challenging task of scaling India. During his walk, he had the opportunity to interact closely with ordinary people from all walks of life, and as a result, he has garnered a following of individuals who believe in the vision he represents. Rahul’s ability to connect with the people and his dedication to the cause of serving the country has earned him a level of respect and admiration that is difficult to come by in Indian politics. His efforts have not gone unnoticed, and his contributions to the national discourse have forced the ruling party to take notice and respond. Whether or not his actions will result in meaningful change remains to be seen, but one thing is sure: Rahul Gandhi’s commitment to the betterment of the country is unwavering.

Rahul Gandhi’s speeches often touch on topics such as love, forgiveness, secularism, and the idea of an India where everyone has a place. He envisions a country where economic policies lean towards the left and include a universal income scheme. He speaks out against crony capitalism, which he believes is harmful to the nation and its people, and is determined to preserve the principles on which India was founded. These are noble aspirations that resonate with many, and it’s difficult to find fault with them.

In today’s world, media coverage plays a crucial role in shaping the political narrative. This fact has been relevant for many years, dating back to the time of Mahatma Gandhi, who used newspapers, magazines, and radio shows to spread his ideas and message. However, today’s media landscape has undergone a drastic transformation, with the ruling party, BJP, monopolising the news space entirely.

The media’s obsession with Modi has led to wall-to-wall coverage of him and his party, leaving little room for other voices, especially the opposition. Prominent news channels and newspapers, especially those in Hindi, have learned to toe the BJP’s line, with their discussions and news reports heavily biased in favour of Modi.

The few journalists who dared to question the government have been sidelined, with some forced out of their newsrooms and into the world of YouTube. In extreme cases, some have even been jailed or, worse, killed, as in the case of Gauri Lankesh.

The situation in the country is pretty bad, with the media’s lack of impartiality fueling a polarising political climate that suppresses dissent and discourages free speech. Despite this, Rahul Gandhi continues to stand up for what he believes in. He advocates for an Indian where everyone has a place. It’s hard to disagree with the soundness of his ideas, and one can only hope that his message will eventually reach a wider audience.

The media did not cover the massive Bharat Jodi Yatra, and yet it became the talk of the town, thanks to Youtube and social media. Modi does not like it one bit.

Rahul Gandhi’s bold questioning of Prime Minister Modi’s close relationship with billionaire businessman Adani and the subsequent allocation of contracts to Adani following Modi’s foreign visits sparked fury among the ruling party. Despite being a talented orator, Modi lacked the moral courage to respond to Rahul’s charges, causing those in power to resort to brute force to silence him. They even went so far as to remove his comments from the records of parliament. It seems that the ruling party was biding its time, waiting for an opportunity to take Rahul down, which ultimately came in the form of a 2019 defamation case. Despite the oppressive tactics employed against him, Rahul’s fearless questioning of those in power continues to resonate with the people, who recognise his commitment to speaking truth to power and holding the government accountable.

The verdict in Rahul’s defamation case is a controversial one, and it has caused a stir among the Indian political community. The verdict comes as a punishment for Rahul’s strong stance against Modi’s cosy relationship with wealthy businessman Adani, which allegedly led to the awarding of contracts to the Adani group. Despite Rahul’s repeted calls for Modi to respond to the charges, the powers that be resorted to brute force and his comments were expunged from parliamentary records. The defamation case that followed in 2019 seemed to be an attempt to bring Rahul down.

However, the verdict has only added fuel to the fire. Some argue that the decision is biased, and it rewards Rahul with just enough sentences to disqualify him from parliament and bar him from contesting elections for eight years. This decision has caused outrage among Rahul’s supporters, who view it as an attack on democracy and freedom of speech. The higher courts will have to weigh in on the matter and decide whether the verdict should stand or be overturned. Regardless of the outcome, the controversy surrounding the verdict has brought the issue of political influence in the Indian judiciary to the forefront.

The subservience of institutions to their political overlords has become increasingly concerning in recent times, and the current judgment is a stark reminder of this reality. It is difficult to remain optimistic in the face of such blatant injustice. However, even in these dark times, there is a glimmer of hope that Indian democracy will rise to the occasion and defend itself against such assaults.

One such beacon of hope is the Supreme Court, which has a long and storied tradition of upholding justice and protecting the rights of citizens. It is our fervent hope that the Court will once again demonstrate its commitment to justice and rescue Rahul from this unjust verdict.

Should the Supreme Court intervene and overturn this verdict, it would be a victory not only for Rahul but for all those who believe in the principles of democracy and justice. It would also give Rahul a renewed sense of purpose and the courage to continue propagating his vision of an India that is inclusive, secular, and just. Such an India would be a shining example to the world and a source of pride for all its citizens.

At this point in our democratic journey, the idea of winning elections seems like a far-off dream. Instead, the most pressing issue we must confront is the suppression of voices of opposition by those in power. We cannot allow the victors of the last election to silence every voice of dissent, and we must fight to protect our fundamental right to free speech. We cannot afford to submit to the fascist forces that have taken control of the country and trampled upon our rights. We must retain the freedom to question, to dissent, and to hold our leaders accountable. We refuse to become subjects in our own land and insist on our right to be treated as citizens with dignity and respect. The struggle for democracy is ongoing, and we must remain vigilant in defending our values and freedoms.

The current state of India’s democracy is disconcerting. In recent times, we have seen numerous instances where the government has been intolerant of criticism, even in the form of peaceful protests or harmless posters. Such actions speak volumes about the government’s attitude towards the right to freedom of speech and expression. We cannot let the present regime gag every voice of dissent as that would be a threat to our fundamental rights as citizens. We cannot allow Prime Minister Modi to become the monarch of India as it goes against the very principles of a republic. The government must be held accountable for its actions and made aware of the need to uphold democratic values. It is time to take a stand and demand the protection of our rights as citizens of a free and democratic nation.

And for these reasons alone, we must all stand with Rahul Gandhi. 

Whether or not we may prefer Rahul Gandhi as a leader residing in 10 RCR (I am aware that the name of that street has been changed, but that is of little importance to me), what is crucial is the idea of questioning authority that he represents. Protecting Rahul’s freedom means upholding the fundamental principles of democracy, where the majority does not oppress the minority. Our strength lies in being an inclusive, progressive, liberal, and tolerant society. It is imperative that we do not allow anyone to snatch away these values that make our country so beautiful. We must ensure that the voice of dissent continues to thrive and that everyone has the right to express their opinion without fear of persecution. The freedom to question those in power is what keeps our democracy alive and must be preserved at all costs.

Remember what Bapu said, stand for what you believe in, even if you are the minority of one (I have paraphrased his words)

By lavkush