Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi during a press conference in New Delhi on March 25, 2023, after being disqualified as a member of parliament. Image Credit: AFP

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that he was not Veer Savarkar and will not apologise.

“I am a Gandhi and not Savarkar and Gandhis do not apologise,” he said at a press conference here a day after his expulsion from Parliament following his conviction in a defamation case.

The former Wayanad MP thanked the opposition for the support and said his disqualification will be a weapon against the Narendra Modi-led Central government.

“I am happy that they have given the best gift ever.”

He went on to say that the “country has given me love and respect” and alleged that his disqualification is because the Prime Minister is scared of his next speech in Parliament.

The senior leader further said that he will continue doing his work and that it does “not matter if I am inside the Parliament or not. I will keep fighting for the country”.

He said that his disqualification is directly related to the Prime Minister who does not want him to speak about his relationship with the Adani Group.

“I have been disqualified because the prime minister is scared of my next speech, he is scared of the next speech that is going to come on Adani” Gandhi told a news conference at the Congress party headquarters in New Delhi.

“They don’t want that speech to be in parliament, that’s the issue” Gandhi said in his first public comments since the conviction and disqualification.

Rahul said that the public knows that Gautam Adani is corrupt and now the question is that why Modi is saving him from all the investigations.

He also said that he is not scared and will not stop asking questions about the alleged relationship.

Priyanka Gandhi attends Rahul Gandhi's news conference. Image Credit: Reuters

'My voice is being suppressed'

“I will not stop asking questions about whose money is the Rs20,000 crore that has come out from shell companies. I am not scared of prison sentence, disqualification and others.. I am not that type of person and thay do not understand me.

“I am not going to back down and will stick on the principle and even if I am disqualified for life, then also I will keep raising questions and fight for the people,” he added.

“My voice is being suppressed,” Rahul Gandhi said and claimed that he spoke to the Speaker against the false accusations made by four ministers but was not allowed to speak.

"BJP leaders claimed that I am helping anti-India forces. I told the Speaker that it is my right to respond to these allegations. But he didn't allow me," he said. "I have only one step and that's to fight for truth and to defend democratic nature of this country. Disqualify me for life, jail me for life, I will continue going."

"Do I look worried? I'm excited," said an undeterred Mr Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi was on Friday disqualified as member of Lok Sabha a day after conviction in the 2019 “Modi surname” defamation case.

The Gandhi scion who represents Wayanad parliamentary constituency of Kerala was disqualified under provisions of Article 102 (1) (e) of the Constitution of India read with Section 8 of Representation of the People’s Act.

On Thursday, he was sentenced to two years in jail by a Surat court in the case filed on a complaint by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi. Gandhi was sentence but walked free on bail after his lawyers vowed to appeal.

However, the conviction made him ineligible to continue sitting as a lawmaker in the lower house of parliament, the chamber’s joint secretary said Friday.

Gandhi, 52, is the leading face of Congress, once the dominant force of Indian politics but now a shadow of its former self.

He has struggled to challenge the electoral juggernaut of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and its nationalist appeals to the country’s Hindu majority.

Thursday’s case stemmed from a remark made during the 2019 election campaign in which Gandhi had asked why “all thieves have Modi as (their) common surname”.

The Congress party has questioned investments made by state-run firms in Adani companies and the handover of the management of six airports to the group in recent years, even though it had no experience in the sector.

The Adani group has denied receiving any special favours from the government and government ministers have dismissed such opposition suggestions as wild allegations , saying regulators would look into any wrongdoing.

Congress, and its opposition allies have called for a parliamentary investigation.

Modi and open book of honesty: BJP leader

“The life of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an open book of honesty,” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad told a news conference called in response to Gandhi’s statements on Saturday.

“We don’t have to defend Adani, BJP never defends Adani, but BJP doesn’t target anyone either,” Prasad said, accusing Gandhi of habitually lying.

A former federal minister, Prasad listed international business deals the Adani group had signed when a Congress-led coalition government ruled India from 2004 to 2014 and its investments in Indian states ruled by Congress.

“So how is Adani group investing 650 billion rupees ($7.89 billion) in a state ruled by your party,” Prasad asked, referring to an announcement by the conglomerate in October that it would invest in the solar power, cement and airport sectors in the western state of Rajasthan, which is ruled by Congress.

Adani’s group is trying to rebuild investor confidence after US short-seller Hindenburg Research accused it of stock manipulation and improper use of tax havens - charges the company has denied.

Who was Savarkar?
Often called the 'Father of Hindutva', Vinayak Damodar Savarkar thought Congress, the backbone of India's freedom struggle, wasn't a good response to the Muslim League.
Hence, he had joined the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha and focussed on Hindutva, a term coined by Bengali conservative Chandranath Basu.
Serving as the president of the Hindu Mahasabha political party, he opposed the Quit India movement in 1942. He was a critic of the Indian National Congress and its acceptance of India's partition.
In 1964, he felt that his goal of independence India is achieved and he declared his wish to attain Samadhi. He started a hunger strike on February 1, 1966, and passed away on February 26, 1966.