India: Rahul Gandhi Jailed for Modi Comment

    India: Rahul Gandhi Jailed for Modi Comment
    Last updated Mar 23, 2023
    Image credit: Reuters [via CNN]


    • 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.[1]
    • Gandhi reportedly asked at an election rally: "But tell me one thing...Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra come they all have Modi as the common name. How come all the thieves have Modi as the common name?"[2]
    • Nirav Modi is a fugitive Indian diamond tycoon charged by Interpol with criminal conspiracy, while Lalit Modi is a fugitive businessman and founder of the Indian Premier League reportedly hiding in London.[3]
    • In his defense of being accused of defaming the entire Modi community, Gandhi told the court: "I have always raised my voice against corruption. My intention was never wrong or to hurt anyone."[4]
    • The district court in Gujarat's Surat — which found Gandhi's comment defamatory — later suspended the sentence for 30 days and granted bail to allow him to appeal in a higher court.[5]
    • Meanwhile, Gandhi may be disqualified as a Member of Parliament in line with the Representation of the People Act of 1951, which says a lawmaker can be disqualified if convicted and imprisoned for two years or more.[6]


    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.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 53% chance that there will be a non-BJP Prime Minister of India before 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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