India: Rahul Gandhi Jailed for Modi Comment

Image copyright: Reuters [via CNN]

The Facts

  • On Thursday, a court in India sentenced opposition leader Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surname.

  • Gandhi reportedly asked at an election rally: "But tell me one thing...Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi...how come they all have Modi as the common name. How come all the thieves have Modi as the common name?"


The Spin

Narrative A

The judgment shows no one is above the law and can escape due judicial process for scurrilous statements, scandalous comments, and defamatory remarks. India is a democracy; however, no citizen is free to throw inflammatory abuses at anyone. The sentence will set a precedent that insulting people by citing their caste or targeting them for their surname is inexcusable, even for politicians. Rahul Gandhi must learn a lesson from his conviction and choose his words before speaking in the future.

Narrative B

The court proceedings were flawed since Prime Minister Narendra Modi — the main target of Rahul Gandhi's speech — was not the complainant in the so-called defamation case. Gandhi is getting punished for exercising his Democratic right to speak his opinion and raise his voice against corruption and injustice. It is an attempt to influence the judiciary and eliminate opposition by prosecuting non-BJP leaders. Nonetheless, the law will also catch up with the motormouths of the BJP sooner than later.


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