What does Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Lok Sabha mean?

After Rahul Gandhi’s membership of Parliament was cancelled following his conviction and sentencing by a local court in Surat on Thursday, in a 2019 defamation case, opposition parties rallied against the BJP and Gandhi’s removal.

Gandhi is alleged to have made remarks such as ‘how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?’ during a rally in Kolar, Karnataka in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the matter was taken to the courts in Gujarat, which announced his disqualification.

A notification issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat on Friday said Gandhi ‘stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction i.e. 23 March, 2023 in terms of the provisions of Article 102(1)(e) of the Constitution of India read with Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.’

Congress leaders led a march from the Parliament complex towards Vijay Chowk in Delhi, to demand a JPC (joint parliamentary committee) to probe the Adani-Hindenburg row, while protesting the disqualification.

The protests also saw representation from the TMC and Samajwadi Party who have remained from aloof from any Congress-led attempts to unite the opposition.

Their presence was noted by Congress boss Mallikarjun Kharge, who said his party ‘welcome(s) anyone who comes forward to protect democracy’.

Apart from the Congress, Trinamool and SP, there were 14 other parties represented at the meeting – seen as a significant statement of opposition unity.

The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day after the opposition protests.

‘I want to run the House with dignity,’ Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla said.

Gandhi who was sentenced to two years in prison was allowed time to file an appeal, as his sentencing was suspended for the time being, but his disqualification was confirmed by the Lower House citing the rules.

The opposition is using this development as a larger step towards accusing the ruling BJP of trying to silence their voices by targeting a prominent face and commenting on the dwindling state of due democratic process in the country.

The BJP has insisted Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification is lawful.

Rahul Gandhi, in response to his conviction and disqualification, has remained focused on his criticism over the Adani-Hindenburg row.