Accused in the Supreme Court of double-talk and maligning the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wherever elections are held and minority votes are to be had, Congress party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday refused an RSS activist’s offer that his remarks at the 2014 Bhiwandi poll speech would be forgiven provided he made a “clear statement” in the Supreme Court that he never intended to involve the RSS in Gandhi’s assassination.
Instead, the Amethi MP opted to withdraw his petition in the Supreme Court for quashing the criminal defamation complaint. He said he would face trial before a magistrate in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra.
No blame on organisation
Mr. Gandhi clarified before a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Rohinton Nariman that he had already stated his position that he never blamed the RSS as an institution for the assassination, but was only referring to people associated with it.
“We are not inclined to interfere now. Let the trial magistrate proceed according to law,” the Supreme Court ordered, dismissing Mr. Gandhi's petition as withdrawn.
When the hearing started, senior advocate U.R. Lalit, for RSS activist Rajesh Kunte, who filed the defamation complaint, refused to take at “face value” Mr. Gandhi’s stand in the apex court that he had no intention to accuse the RSS. “Let him show his bona fide first. Let him clearly say that when ‘I made those statements (in the speech) I did not intend to involve the RSS’. Otherwise, it is clear that all this he is saying now is only for the convenience of this litigation,” Mr. Lalit said.
He then handed over to the Bench a short written statement of what his client wanted Mr. Gandhi to state for the case to come to an end.
Mala fide motive: activist
Congress vice- president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that he stood by his remarks on the links between certain members of the RSS and the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
“I have always said that. I will say it now. I will always say that. Let this case go to trial,” senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Mahalakshmi Pavani, Mr. Gandhi's lawyers, submitted while seeking to withdraw Mr. Gandhi’s earlier plea in the court for quashing of a defamation case filed against him by a RSS activist, Rajesh Kunte.
The court however, refused to grant Mr. Gandhi exemption from appearance in the trial.
Counsel for Mr. Kunte U. R. Lalit said, “You [Rahul Gandhi] have done it repeatedly. Wherever there was an election, wherever there are minority votes to be had, he [Rahul Gandhi] has maligned the RSS. In Assam, he said the same,” Mr. Lalit submitted.
Mr. Kunte alleged in his complaint that Mr. Gandhi’s comments amounted to “imputations against the RSS and its people with mala fide motive to harm the reputation of the RSS, its followers, people, swayamsevaks”.