Confident we'll see Rahul Gandhi back in Parliament 'very quickly' via legal process: Khurshid

Khurshid also said he was confident that Rahul Gandhi will be back in Parliament "very quickly" through the legal process

Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid
Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid
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Asim Kamal/PTI

Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Tuesday said Opposition unity in the face of Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from Lok Sabha provides a fertile ground to "build an edifice on", and noted that if this is the beginning of a more sustained cooperation it was "worth paying the price" for.

Khurshid also said he was confident that Rahul Gandhi will be back in Parliament "very quickly" through the legal process.

In an interview with PTI, the former law minister said changes to the law on disqualification of legislators was "inevitable" as steps undertaken to clean up the political system have some unintended dimensions and Rahul Gandhi's case seems to be one such instance.

To what extent should freedom of speech be allowed and be flexible for representatives of the people outside Parliament and outside legislatures is a question now that needs to be considered now, Khurshid said.

He also said Gandhi's disqualification has an emotional content which is very similar to the disqualification of former prime minister Indira Gandhi from Lok Sabha over four decades ago that will feed into people's reactions.

"But that does not relieve us from this onerous task to fight this battle day in and day out, till we are finally able to demolish the BJP and its government at the Centre," said Khurshid, who is a member of the Congress' steering committee.

The former Union minister, however, pointed out that while there were many similarities between Rahul Gandhi's disqualification to that of his grandmother, a lot has changed from then to now and there are ground realities that cannot be overlooked with many parties establishing themselves in various states.

Asked about Opposition unity on display following Rahul Gandhi's disqualification with even parties that have maintained a distance from the Congress such as TMC, AAP and BRS coming out in support, Khurshid said, "It seems very promising and we have no issue about expressing our deeply felt gratitude for what they have done in this issue."

"But this is an issue for all of us, a cutting edge issue, and therefore, they have joined us. I think it is very good, it augurs well for what we are trying to do to bring about unity in this country but it will have to be broadened, it will have to be not episodic, it will have to be more sustained and deeper. If this is a beginning towards that, may be this is something for which it was worth paying the price," he said.

On whether this could be the rallying point, Khurshid said it was a noble thought and he would be very happy to see it taken forward in that direction.

"But I don't want to sound that I am taking anyone for granted. Whatever they (Opposition parties) have done we are extremely grateful for that to them. We appreciate it and I hope that we can reciprocate it if it is necessary," he said.

It is a fertile ground to build an edifice on in due course by everyone's voluntary participation without anyone feeling that there is an attempt to monopolise any such development, he added.

Khurshid's remarks come at a time of renewed push for Opposition unity. Leaders of at least 18 Opposition parties met at the residence of Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge here on Monday and alleged that the BJP-led government is destroying democracy.

They also decided to continue with their campaign against the Narendra Modi government.

The Opposition bonhomie has been visible following Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from Lok Sabha. The disqualification came after he was sentenced to two years in jail by a Surat court in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his "why all thieves have Modi surname" remark.

Asked if Gandhi could make a comeback to Parliament this Lok Sabha term, Khurshid said, "We hope and we are confident that we will see him back in Parliament very quickly through the legal process."

"The legal process will take a few days I can't tell you at what pace we will be able to do it. We have a team working on it. Hopefully in the not too distant future we will overcome the impediments," he said.

Rebutting the BJP's charge that the Congress was slow off the blocks in seeking judicial relief after Rahul Gandhi's conviction as compared to the case of Pawan Khera's arrest case recently, the noted lawyer said, Khera's case was not an appeal and if the BJP does not understand the difference between filing of an appeal and preventing an arrest then it needs to get some lessons.

Hitting out at the BJP over alleged targeting of Rahul Gandhi, Khurshid said there must be something in the psyche of the BJP and its supporters that troubles them very grievously about the challenge that they see in Rahul Gandhi.

"So they are obviously nervous in some way about his ability to strike and therefore, they are doing all this. It is a sad commentary on the level to which they have brought the political discourse down," the Congress leader said.

Talking about the path to the 2024 general elections, Khurshid said let the top leaders of the country come together and talk, and discover what they can together offer to the alliance against the present government.

"The government has a lot to do with Mr (Narendra) Modi and his world view. But I think we should look at the system that we have to oppose, not just a man. I think there is a system we have to oppose, the system that has been unsettling the system that we are all used to since independence," he said.

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