In a part reversal of his earlier stand, counsel for Rahul Gandhi, vice-president of the Congress party, told the Supreme Court his client was ready to face a trial for having said those belonging to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.
He had made the remark while campaigning in the 2014 national elections. “RSS ke logon ne Gandhiji ko goli mari aur ab unki baat karte hain (RSS people shot Gandhiji and now talk about him),” Rahul Gandhi had reportedly said.
The RSS is ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP). Later, an RSS worker filed a complaint of defamation against the Congress leader in a Maharashtra court. “I stand by each and every word. I will never take my words back…I am ready to go to trial,” Rahul’s counsel Kapil Sibal, a former Union minister, told the SC. Earlier, the RSS had said the case could be withdrawn if Rahul publicly stated that he did not hold the RSS as an institution responsible for the Mahatma’s death. Rahul had approached the apex court to dismiss the petition against him in theMaharashtra court. “We withdrew our petition and simply said we stand by what we said,” Sibal told journalists. Hence, after Rahul’s refusal to take back his words, the apex court rejected his request for personal exemption from appearing in the Maharashtra court.
The BJP targeted Rahul over an earlier flip-flop, asking if the Congress leader wanted to face trial, why did he petition the SC to quash the earlier case? \”This is another U-turn by Rahul Gandhi. If he is ready to face trial now, why did they avoid it for two years?\” asked senior RSS functionary M G Vaidya.
Rahul faced criticism as he, through his counsel, had told the apex court recently that he did not blame the RSS but “people associated with it” for shooting Mahatma Gandhi. His counsel had also told the apex court that his remarks had been wrongly interpreted by the RSS worker in Maharashtra who’d filed the case.
Sensing confusion among the Congress strategists over the issue, the RSS picked up Rahul’s statements and upped the ante against him, by demanding an apology. After which, Congress managers thought a bold stand on the issue than playing with the words would be a better position, as Rahul has been criticising RSS and BJP for many years.
Since 2014, when the Congress lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Politics Rahul has been aggressively attacking the RSS, accusing it of divisive politics, ‘saffronisation’ of education and the like.
“The court battle will go on but this fight will decide who is a real Hindu…no real Hindu can kill Gandhi…will the RSS clarify if Nathuram Godse (Gandhi’s assassin) was such a Hindu?” said Sibal.