Why Rahul is now ready to face trial for 'RSS killed Gandhi' remark

Congress is trying hard to reclaim lost ground and win back the support of minorities and other groups that have deserted it.

 |  2-minute read |   01-09-2016
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Kapil Sibal, eminent Supreme Court lawyer and the legal counsel for Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, took the apex court by surprise by withdrawing the exemption plea filed before it by his client in a defamation case filed by the RSS. 

Sibal told the court that his client, Rahul, is prepared to face trial in a lower court and stands by his statement in which he had said the RSS had killed Mahatma Gandhi.

On the face of it, Rahul's plea looks like a turnaround from the position he had taken last week when he had said that he never meant to say the entire RSS was behind the killing of Mahatma Gandhi, but only “people associated with it”. 

The RSS activist who filed the defamation case said he was prepared to withdraw it, provided the Congress vice-president withdrew his statement and absolved the RSS of assassinating the Father of the Nation.

gandhi-mahatma-embed_090116043207.jpg Last week Rahul Gandhi had taken the position that he never meant to say the entire RSS was behind the killing of Mahatma Gandhi. 

Some thought appears to have gone into the position taken by Rahul and his willingness to face trial rather than take back his statement. 

Rahul and his party’s political managers appear to have realised that he stands to gain politically by facing trial against the RSS. The trial in their view will burnish his secular credentials and help establish him as an uncompromising crusader against not just the RSS but the right-wing forces in the country.

Rahul appeared to have disappointed many of his liberal and secular supporters by the petition that was filed before the apex court last week, which was seen as compromising the ideological position that the Congress has consistently taken on the RSS’s linkages with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.  

The timing of Rahul's decision to stand his ground on the RSS issue and face trial is significant. 

Also read: Should Rahul apologise to RSS over Mahatma Gandhi's assassination?

It comes in the run-up to a spate of assembly elections that are scheduled for early next year. 

Uttar Pradesh is one of the states going to the polls next year, and the secular versus communal debate is expected to be the subject of fierce political debate as the electoral battle unfolds in the Hindi heartland.

Congress is trying hard to reclaim lost ground and win back the support of minorities and other groups that have deserted it, leading to near decimation of the party in the state. 

The party’s political managers hope that taking a firm and uncompromising position against the RSS will help the party re-establish its linkages with its traditional support groups and also enable it to position itself as the main political force capable of taking on the onslaught of the RSS and its right-wing cohorts.

Writer

Javed M Ansari Javed M Ansari @javedmansari

The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst.

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