Finally, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has come out of his boyish stature to step into bigger shoes of owning something he had said and facing the brunt of it even in terms of a Court trial and then jail, if need be.
For the umpteenth time, the Congress No.2 has come out of the cocoon to say in bold terms that he stands by what he said and is ready to face any trial, showcasing the leadership qualities that many of his partymen wanted him to show.
The defamation case pertains to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) demand for a statement by Rahul Gandhi that the organisation has no role to play in Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. He made the remarks in his 2014 Bhiwandi election speech.
It may be recalled that Mahatma Gandhi was killed on January 30, 1948 by one Nathuram Godse. Earlier, Rahul Gandhi’s counsel Kapil Sibal said the Amethi MP never tried to target RSS. Now, he told the apex court Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Rohinto Nariman in clear terms that Rahul Gandhi did say what he said and he stands by those words.
“I have always said that. I will say it now. I will always say that. Let this case go to trial,” said Sibal, Rahul Gandhi’s counsel. Rahul Gandhi has also withdrawn his petition in the Supreme Court to quash the criminal defamation complaint and summons issued against him.
The Supreme Court then refused to grant Rahul Gandhi exemption from appearance in the trial. RSS counsel and senior advocate U.R. Lalit and his co-counsel M.N. Krishnamani, wanted a written statement from Rahul Gandhi stating that RSS has no role to play in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
“I have said only what Nathuram Godse’s brother said. Nothing more,” Mr. Sibal said.
At the previous hearing, Mr. Gandhi reiterated his contentions before the Bombay High Court in 2014 that he had never accused the RSS as an “institution” for the assassination of Gandhiji, but only persons associated with the organisation.
The Bench had also observed that “what we understand from the statement the accused [Mr. Gandhi] never blamed RSS as an institution that assassinated Mahatma Gandhi but the persons associated with it”. The court said this after reading from a December 15, 2014 affidavit submitted by Mr. Gandhi in the High Court in the same case.
“The assassination of Mahatma was a result of destructive philosophy of the persons associated with the RSS. It was also clearly suggested that the assassins were associated or affiliated with the RSS. He never accused the RSS as an institution of the crime,” said Rahul Gandhi’s counsel in his affidavit.
Now that RSS is keen to drag Rahul Gandhi to a court trial and eventually get him imprisoned, the beneficiary will be the Congress, which returns to power every time a Gandhi member is jailed or killed or assassinated. It happened with Indira Gandhi in 1980 elections, with Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 elections after Indira Gandhi’s assassination and again in 1992 when Rajiv Gandhi was killed during the elections.
Perhaps, Rahul Gandhi and Kapil Sibal must be weighing the pros and cons of jail term for Rahul Gandhi over his remarks on RSS. Even one month in prison for Rahul Gandhi would mean Congress party romping home with great majority in the next elections, the way one-week imprisonment for Indira Gandhi won her 1980 election victory.