"He has been removed from the House for speaking the truth, fighting for the Constitution and for people's rights," Kharge alleged
The Congress on Friday termed party's senior leader Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from Lok Sabha as "a black day for Indian democracy" and said the action was driven by "political vendetta".
Gandhi was disqualified from Lok Sabha on Friday with a Lok Sabha Secretariat notification, a day after he was convicted by a Surat court in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his "Modi surname" remark.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge while reacting to Gandhi's disqualification, said the BJP made all efforts to get him disqualified as he was speaking the truth. "He has been removed from the House for speaking the truth, fighting for the Constitution and for people's rights," Kharge alleged.
"This was not a question of backward class, Lalit Modi and Nirav Modi are not of backward class. They are trying to build a perception that Rahul Gandhi spoke against backward class. Gandhi was putting forward the truth before the country so they were not liking it," he said in an apparent reference to BJP chief J P Nadda's remarks that Gandhi had compared OBC communities to thieves.
The BJP would be thinking that their problem is solved by ousting him from Lok Sabha but it is not so as the demand for Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) would continue to be raised, he said. Opposition leaders have been demanding a JPC probe into the Adani issue.
Also read: Rahul Gandhi disqualified from Lok Sabha after conviction in defamation case
"We will keep fighting for protecting democracy and even if we have to go to jail, we will do so. Our people are ready to fight," Kharge said.
The Congress president said there will be a meeting of senior party leaders at 5 pm and a strategy going forward will be decided upon.
Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said in a tweet, "We will fight this battle both legally and politically. We will not be intimidated or silenced. Instead of a JPC into the PM-linked Adani Maha Mega Scam, Rahul Gandhi stands disqualified. Indian Democracy Om Shanti."
Congress' leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury hit out at the government over Gandhi's disqualification, saying the country is witnessing "politics of vendetta spearheaded by the Modi government".
"It is a sheer case of retributive politics because Rahul Gandhi has been gaining popularity in the wake of the Bharat Jodo Yatra which could not be digested by the Modi government. The government and the BJP believe that Gandhi has to be muzzled because if he is allowed to speak in Parliament they will be dislodged from government," he said.
Chowdhury termed the disqualification as a "cruel" step of an "autocratic" government and alleged that democracy cannot survive under the present dispensation.
Congress general secretary in-charge organisation K C Venugopal also lashed out at the government and said the day Gandhi raised questions about the Adani issue against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP planned a "conspiracy" to silence the voice of Gandhi .
"This is a clear case of anti-democratic, dictatorial attitude of the BJP government," Venugopal said in a video statement.
In a tweet later, he said, "Rahul Gandhi ji's disqualification is the final nail in the coffin. This is a black day for Indian democracy. It is a well-orchestrated move of the Modi government to silence his voice in Parliament. We will fight this legally and politically on every front, the truth will prevail."
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said he was stunned by the action against Gandhi and by its rapidity. "This is politics with the gloves off and it bodes ill for our democracy," Tharoor said in a tweet.
In a tweet in Hindi, the Congress said, "Rahul Gandhi's Lok Sabha membership has been terminated. He is constantly fighting for you and this country from the road to the Parliament, trying everything possible to save democracy."
"Despite every conspiracy, he will continue this fight at all costs and will take action as per law in this matter. The fight continues," the party said. (With inputs from PTI)