Patna: Rahul Gandhi was granted bail on Saturday after he appeared before a court here in a defamation case filed by BJP leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, days after a Mumbai court held that the Congress leader would face trial for alleged slander.
Gandhi alleged that he was being targeted for raising his voice against the Narendra Modi government and the BJP-RSS combine, and vowed to continue his fight.
The Congress leader, who recently resigned as party president, surrendered before Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Kumar Gunjan, who is the judge for special MPs and MLAs court here, and was granted bail.
Sushil Modi’s counsel, Shambhu Prasad, said the court had fixed 8 August as the next date of hearing in the case. “We did not oppose his bail. The court explained to him the accusation against him and asked whether he pleaded guilty,” Prasad said. “The respondent replied in the negative and the matter was posted for further hearing on 8 August.”
Before leaving the court premises, Gandhi told a swarm of reporters waiting for a sound byte that he would continue to fight for the country’s poor. “I am committed to fighting for the country’s poor, farmers and workers. I have come here to express my solidarity with them,” he said. “Whoever is raising his voice against the Modi government, against the BJP-RSS combine is being targeted through court cases. But my fight will continue.”
Earlier in the day, Gandhi said he would appear before the court for a case filed by his “political opponents” in the BJP-RSS to “harass and intimidate” him.
Gandhi was slapped with the defamation suit by Sushil Modi in April for his remark: “Why all thieves have the surname Modi?”.
The comment was an obvious reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, absconding bank-fraud accused Nirav Modi and former Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi. The deputy chief minister had moved the court alleging that he was personally anguished by Gandhi’s remarks since he shared the same surname.
The former Congress chief’s appearance in the Patna court comes two days after he and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, pleaded not guilty in a Mumbai court in another defamation case filed against them by an RSS worker.
Upon arrival at the airport, Gandhi was received by senior leaders, including state Congress president Madan Mohan Jha. He drove straight to the court premises, around seven kilometres away.
The court premises was cordoned off by the police since morning following a review of security arrangements by the Special Protection Group on the previous day.
Scores of Congress workers were seen staging a demonstration outside the court premises demanding that Gandhi withdraw his resignation from the post of the party president, a step he took owning moral responsibility for the Lok Sabha poll debacle.
Some of the demonstrators claimed that if Gandhi remained adamant, they would self-immolate outside the historic Sadaqat Ashram here, where the state Congress headquarters are located.
This was the Congress leader’s first visit to the city after the Lok Sabha election. He was last seen here in May when he held a roadshow in support of Patna Sahib party candidate Shatrughan Sinha.