Rahul Gandhi’s expulsion raises questions about democracy

Nearly 1,000 members of civil society urge citizens to defend parliamentary democracy

NEW DELHI | Updated: 28 March, 2023 4:47 pm IST
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Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi

Nearly 1000 teachers, artists, scientists, cultural workers and members of civil society have expressed their concern over the recent expulsion of Rahul Gandhi, leader of the Congress Party, from the Lok Sabha, following his conviction in a defamation case.

The statement, titled ‘Defend Parliamentary Democracy’ and released on Tuesday, March 28, by professor Apoorvanand, scientist and poet Gauhar Raza and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, called upon the people of India to take all measures to save parliamentary democracy from the assault from the ruling party.

The statement raised serious questions about how democracy in India is being run today by the people at the helm of affairs.

“He was given the maximum sentence of two-year jail which also raises doubts about the objective of the verdict. Jurists have expressed surprise that the Lok Sabha secretariat worked at such lightning speed to deprive Rahul Gandhi of the membership of the house without even waiting for the higher courts to take a view of the order of the lower court,” the statement read.

“Both the acts – the conviction and sentencing of Rahul Gandhi and his subsequent expulsion from the House – bring the judiciary and the people heading the house into disrepute,” it read further.

The statement highlights the fact that the opposition has to speak on behalf of the people and hold the government accountable for its acts.

“Democracy dies if all state institutions, including the judiciary, are used to disable the opposition from doing its job by criminalising its political acts. The constant persecution of opposition leaders using various investigative agencies and by putting them in jail has been a cause for concern,” the statement mentioned.

The unprecedented disruption of the parliament by the ruling party and the role of the presiding officers in not allowing the opposition leaders to use the forum of the parliament to air people’s concerns are also seen as a subversion of democracy, it added.

The action against Rahul Gandhi has to be viewed as part of defaming and criminalizing the opposition and demolishing the entire democratic structure. The statement calls upon the people to rise to the occasion and defend the opposition to save parliamentary democracy in its interests before it’s too late.

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