The United States today said respect for rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy, referring to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi who was convicted and subsequently disqualified as a member of parliament in a defamation case over his ‘Modi surname’ remark.
“We are watching Rahul Gandhi's case in Indian courts and engage with the government of India on our shared commitment to democratic values including of course, freedom of expression. In our engagements with our Indian partners, we continue to highlight the importance of democratic principles and the protection of human rights and freedom of expression as key to strengthening both our democracies”, Vedant Patel, US Department of State's principal deputy spokesperson, told the media.
Gandhi was disqualified as the Lok Sabha member of parliament from Kerala's Wayanad following his conviction in the defamation case. His disqualification has triggered a massive political showdown between the Narendra Modi government and the opposition in India.
When asked whether the US is engaging with India or Rahul Gandhi, he said, “I don't have any specific engagements to read out... but as I am sure you know some of these covered this department for some time 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.”
But Rahul Gandhi is defiant despite being disqualified as an MP. In a press conference on Saturday, the Congress leader said he asked only one question on Adani issue. Gandhi said he will continue to ask questions and fight for democracy in India.
“Even if they disqualify me permanently, I will keep doing my work. it does not matter if I am inside the Parliament or not. I will keep fighting for the country”, he had said. On Monday, the Lok Sabha secretariat asked Gandhi to vacate his official residence by April 22.