Rahul issue: USA reminds India of importance of democratic values
Washington DC/New Delhi: The United States of America today (IST) stated that respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy and that it was watching Rahul Gandhi’s case in Indian courts besides engaging with New Delhi “on our shared commitment to democratic values – including, of course, freedom of expression”.
To a specific question during a press conference here today (IST) on whether Washington was also engaging with Rahul Gandhi as the opposition leader, a United States Department of State spokesperson, responded: “…it is normal and standard for us to engage with members of opposition parties in any country where we have bilateral relationships. But I don’t have any specific engagement to read out [in the context of Rahul Gandhi]”.
The United States recalled its practice of engaging with the Opposition parties as well in countries where it has bilateral relations, but also said it was engaging with the Government of India over the issue of the expulsion of Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha.
Ahead of the Summit of Democracies hosted jointly by the United States, Costa Rica, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Zambia, which begins March 29, 2023, and where India is an invitee, political analysts here are also arguing whether Rahul’s expulsion was consistent with “democratic values”.
Rahul, who was disqualified as a member of Lok Sabha following his conviction by a district court in a criminal defamation case, is a former president of the Indian National Congress and a prominent opposition leader of India.
Pertaining to Rahul’s conviction, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge yesterday told media persons in New Delhi: “The offence occurred at Kolar in Karnataka, but, you have registered the case in Surat, outside the jurisdiction and Gujarat, why? Because you wanted a favourable outcome. In Gujarat, there is a BJP government and you want to use the police, you want to use, I can’t say judiciary, but, you want to use for your purpose to defame Shri Rahul Gandhi Ji. That’s why, you people transferred the case there. Therefore, I am telling…Today is like a Black Day! Such things never happened earlier. For small things, defamation cases are put on a leader and even when the punishment is not exceeding 2 years, that leader has been disqualified.”
“In our engagements with our Indian partners, we continue to highlight the importance of democratic principles and the protection of human rights, including freedom of expression, as a key to strengthening both our democracies,” Vedant Patel, Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the US Department of State said.
– global bihari bureau