New Delhi: Showing a shift in stance, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday openly supported Congress leader Rahul Gandhi after he was sentenced to two years in jail in a defamation case and alleged a conspiracy was being hatched to “eliminate” non-BJP leaders and parties by prosecuting them.
Congress and the AAP have in the past avoided taking each other’s side on various issues.
The grand old party did not support AAP when Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia was arrested by the CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2021-22.
However, AAP’s support for Gandhi has come at a time when Kejriwal is learnt to be attempting to forge an alliance of “like-minded” parties ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year. Earlier this month, he had invited chief ministers of eight non-BJP, non-Congress ruled states for dinner and discussion over political issues.
On Thursday, the Aam Aadmi Party indicated a softening in its stance for Congress after a court in Gujarat’s Surat held Gandhi guilty of defamation for his 2019 “Modi surname” remark.
“A conspiracy is being hatched to eliminate non-BJP leaders and parties by prosecuting them. We have differences with the Congress, but it is not right to implicate Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case like this.
“It is the job of the public and the opposition to ask questions. We respect the court but disagree with the decision,” Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.
AAP Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha said opposition forms the core of democracy and dissent should not be stifled.
“Respectfully disagree with the court verdict against Rahul Gandhi. Opposition forms the core of democracy. Dissent should not be stifled. India has a strong tradition of critique. Attempt to reduce this to the viewpoint of one ideology, one party, one leader is unconstitutional and undemocratic,” he tweeted.
The Surat court has granted Gandhi bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court. The Congress said Gandhi will file an appeal against the verdict.