Rahul Gandhi today told the Supreme Court that he is ready to be tried on charges of defaming the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS.
Mr Gandhi, who is No 2 in the Congress, has been accused of blaming the RSS in a pre-election speech in 2014 for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.
The RSS said that the case against him could be withdrawn if he now states publicly that he does not blame the RSS as an institution for the death of the Mahatma. Mr Gandhi refused and withdrew a request for the case to be dismissed. “I stand by what I said,” said Mr Gandhi to judges through his lawyer, former union minister Kapil Sibal. The Supreme Court has rejected his request to be exempted from appearing in person in the lower court handling the case.
Mr Gandhi told the Supreme Court a few days ago that he did not blame the RSS but “people associated with it” for the shooting of Gandhi-ji, and that his comments have been misinterpreted by the RSS activist from Maharashtra who has field the case against him.
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That assertion was claimed by the BJP and the RSS as evidence of Mr Gandhi’s backtracking on what they describe as a mistake for which the Congress leader must publicly apologise.
In retaliation, Mr Gandhi said the next day “I will never stop fighting hateful and the divisive agenda of RSS. I stand by every single word I said.”
“This shows the confusion in his mind,” said BJP leader NC Shaina, adding, “trying to reinvent yourself at the cost of RSS is unfortunate.”