Kolkata: Journalist Siddique Kappan, who was released on bail after serving more than two years in jail, fact-checker Mohammed Zubair, who got bail after spending 23 days in jail, and Rahul Gandhi, who has been disqualified from parliament, have one thing in common.
Kappan was on his way to report on Hathras gangrape case, when he was detained midway, without him even reporting the story. He was kept behind bars for 28 months.
Zubair, co-founder of Alt News, had started the Unhate campaign, to highlight hate speeches made right from Nupur Sharma to several so-called religious leaders, on Twitter. He was arrested by Delhi Police over a fictitious tweet and was only granted bail after the Supreme Court intervened.
Gandhi, in his recent speech, highlighted the relationship between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and businessman Gautam Adani to allege that the Indian PM supports crony capitalism. However, the Congress leader was sentenced to two years imprisonment in connection with another speech, in which he had asked why every thief has ‘Modi’ as surname.
All of the above three were questioning the government, but instead of taking action against the accused, the questioners were arrested or punished.
In PM Modi’s ‘New India,’ criminals or accused individuals are not being arrested or held behind bars, but its those who raise questions are having to face the consequences.
Within a day of the two-year sentence imposed by a Surat Court, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Om Birla, disqualified former Congress president. Most of India’s opposition parties and their leaders in solidarity with Rahul Gandhi spoke out against the action.
Saugato Datta, Managing Director of Ideas 42, compiled a list of tweets in which opposition leaders (including those who do not always see eye to eye with Congress) expressed support for Rahul Gandhi and spoke out against his malicious disqualification from Parliament. This list includes Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, TMC leaders Mahua Moitra and Derek O’Brien, Arvind Kejriwal (the National Convener of Aam Aadmi Party), Akhilesh Yadav (President of Samajwadi Party), MK Stalin (President of DMK), Pinarayi Vijayan (CM of Kerala and Politburo Member of CPM), YSR of TRS, Sitaram Yechury of CPM, Sharad Pawar (NCP chief), Tejashwi Yadav of RJD, Hemant Soren of JMM, Uddhav Thackeray of Shiv Sena, and Jayant Singh of RLD.
Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPIML General Secretary, also tweeted against the disqualification and called for a united opposition.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is now focusing on Rahul Gandhi’s speech for which he was disqualified, alleging that it was against the Other Backward Caste (OBC) community.
However, the news has been reported in almost all international media, and all have mentioned Gandhi’s recent speech in parliament on the relationship between PM Modi and Adani. Adani’s companies were reported by Hindenberg Research as short-selling, which was the main reason for the disqualification. The report led to losses of billions to Adani companies and the invested money of government units.
Lydia Polgreen, New York Times Opinion columnist, tweeted, tagging the NYT news on Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification: “India had been losing its democracy slowly. Now it’s happening all at once. This is a classic move in the elected autocrat playbook: use a pliant justice system to make your most powerful opponents ineligible to run against you (sic).”
While opposition leaders and international media seem worried about Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as they believe it is yet another attack on Indian democracy, Indian National Congress will hold a protest against it from Monday.
A Twitterati Anas Tanwir commented on it, “Haan weekend mana lo pehle (Yes, let them celebrate the weekend first.”
On Saturday, Rahul Gandhi held a press conference and said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scared of my next speech on Adani.