WASHINGTON: US Congressman Ro Khanna has denounced the disqualification of Indian Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi from Parliament as a "deep betrayal" of democracy, and called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reverse the decision.
Gandhi lost his Lok Sabha seat after being convicted in a defamation case and sentenced to two years in jail, which could bar him from contesting elections for eight years, unless a higher courts intervenes.
“The expulsion of Rahul Gandhi from parliament is a deep betrayal of Gandhian philosophy and India’s deepest values,” Khanna, of Indian origin, said in a tweet.
“This is not what my grandfather sacrificed years in jail for,” Khanna said.
Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley in the US House of Representatives, requested PM Modi's intervention.
“You have the power to reverse this decision for the sake of Indian democracy,” Khanna said in another tweet.
However, there has been no official US response to Gandhi's disqualification. Gandhi's party plans to appeal the verdict.
On Friday, the United Nations said it knows reports about Congress leader Gandhi’s sentence and that his party plans to appeal the verdict.
Farhan Aziz Haq, the Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, responded to a question at a press briefing in New York about whether UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was worried about democracy in India.
“I can say that we’re aware of the reports regarding the case of Rahul Gandhi. We understand that his party does plan to appeal the decision. That’s as much as I can say on that at this stage,” Farhan Haq said.
The Indian Overseas Congress, USA vice-chair, George Abraham, called the decision a "sad day for democracy in India" and accused the Modi government of violating the right to free speech in India.
“It is a sad day for democracy in India. By disqualifying Rahul Gandhi, Modi sarkar is ringing the death knell for the right to free speech and freedom of Indians everywhere,” Abraham was quoted as saying in media reports.
He said that bringing an insignificant court case against a remark in the heat of a political campaign is “shameful".
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