United Opposition supports Rahul Gandhi, BJP points at ‘feudal mindset’

 New Delhi– 25 March : The disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from the Lok Sabha sparked strong political reactions across the board on Friday with the party vowing to launch mass protests and calling it an assault on freedom of speech, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) calling his behaviour feudal and accusing him of insulting a community.

A number of other Opposition parties – including some opposed to the Congress – also closed ranks and backed Gandhi, criticising the government.

During a meeting of Congress leaders on Friday, one Member of Parliament (MP) said all party MPs should tender mass resignation but no final decision was taken, said people aware of the developments. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that a reply should be given to the disqualification through the party’s victory in the upcoming Karnataka elections and a committee will be formed to take further decisions.

“They (BJP) tried all ways to disqualify him. They don’t want to keep those who are speaking the truth but we will continue to speak the truth. We’ll continue to demand JPC (joint parliamentary committee) probe (into Adani issue). If needed we’ll go to jail to save democracy,” Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said.

The BJP accused Gandhi of being a “habitual loose cannon” with a “feudal mindset” and having little respect for marginalised communities . “I want to ask Mallikarjun Kharge, is abusing other backward classes (OBCs) considered speaking the truth? Do you consider the feudal mindset as truth… this is not the truth, its arrogance,” said Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

A string of other opposition parties also attacked the government. “In PM Modi’s New India, Opposition leaders have become the prime target of BJP…Today, we have witnessed a new low for our constitutional democracy,” tweeted West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Kerala chief minister Pinarai Vijayan called the disqualification decision hasty and proof of authoritarianism. “This brazen assault is an insult to our democratic values and can’t be overlooked. It must be unequivocally denounced,” he said.

“The expulsion of Rahul Gandhi from the Lok Sabha is shocking. The country is passing through very difficult times,” Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said. Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi indicated the party will challenge Gandhi’s conviction on various grounds, including the process of his disqualification.