The Congress on Monday alleged that “illegal arrests” were being made to prevent party leaders and workers from going to Surat where Rahul Gandhi is set to file an appeal in a court against his conviction in a criminal defamation case.
Senior Congress leaders, including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, are accompanying Rahul Gandhi to the court.
The Congress leader will seek suspension of his sentence by the sessions court, sources said.
In a tweet in Hindi, Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said, “There are continuous reports of illegal arrests by the BJP government in Gujarat to prevent Congress leaders and workers from going to Surat.” “The undemocratic face of BJP is being exposed again and again,” he said.
The Congress condemns all these activities and demands their immediate release, Ramesh added.
Gandhi will land in Surat at around 2 pm, according to the Congress sources.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Congress Rajya Sabha member K C Venugopal and other senior party leaders will also be in Surat.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Himachal Pradesh CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu are also likely to be in the city as Gandhi moves court, the sources said.
The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate H H Varma here had on March 23 convicted the 52-year-old Gandhi and sentenced him to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his “Modi surname” remarks.
The case was filed against Gandhi on a complaint by Bharatiya Janata Party MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi for the Congress leader’s alleged remarks “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?” Gandhi, who had served as an MP from Wayanad in Kerala, made the remarks while addressing a rally at Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, 2019 during the Lok Sabha elections campaign.
The sentence of two years invited his disqualification from the membership of Parliament under provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.