Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi found guilty of defamation, sentenced to two years in prison
London — In a dramatic turn of events, opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has been found guilty of defamation by a court in western India. The case was filed against him by a leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for a speech he made during the 2019 general election campaign, in which he referred to thieves as having the surname Modi. The court in Surat, Gujarat, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, sentenced Mr. Gandhi to two years in prison, but he was granted bail and his sentence was suspended for 30 days.
Mr. Gandhi, who is the son of India’s sixth prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, and the grandson of the nation’s third prime minister, Indira Gandhi, was present at the court during the ruling. In his defense, he stated that he had made the comment to highlight corruption and was not against any community. However, the court found his comment to be defamatory and guilty under IPC section, 499 read with 500.
Mr. Gandhi is one of the main opposition leaders in the country and will go up against Mr. Modi when he seeks his third term as prime minister in 2024. His once-dominant Congress party controls fewer than 10 percent of the elected seats in parliament’s lower house and has lost badly to the BJP in two successive general elections, most recently in 2019.