'Rahul Gandhi's disqualification setback for now but may turn into advantage for him, Cong'
Zoya Hasan, Professor Emeritus at the JNU's School of Social Sciences said that Rahul Gandhi could emerge a hero and also victim of "a ruthless political system"
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from Lok Sabha following his conviction in a criminal defamation case appears to have come as a setback at the moment but experts say it may turn out to be an advantage for him and his party.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat on Friday notified Gandhi's disqualification from the Lower House of Parliament, a day after a court in Surat convicted the Congress MP in a 2019 criminal defamation case and awarded him two years' imprisonment.
The Congress, however, put up a brave face and called it "a black day for Indian democracy", asserting that the battle will be fought both "legally and politically".
"It is big blow to Rahul Gandhi and the Congress at this moment, although one could also argue that his disqualification from Lok Sabha can be turned into an advantage against the background of the growing popularity of the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'," Zoya Hasan, Professor Emeritus at the JNU's School of Social Sciences, told PTI when asked for comment.
She said Gandhi could emerge a hero and also victim of "a ruthless political system", she added.
Hasan, however, said it could also turn out to be problematic if Gandhi does not get any relief from a higher court and continues to remain disqualified.
"His disqualification for the rest of the term of the current Lok Sabha is not a big deal because it is already going to be April and this session of Parliament has been washed out anyway, and two or three more sessions are left to be held," she said.
But it will be a setback for him if he remains disqualified from contesting the next Lok Sabha elections, Hasan said.
"It could be problematic," she said, adding, "He may be popular outside but how would a leader lead a party when he can not contest elections. The fact is that Gandhi has been disqualified and it is not clear if his conviction will be overturned." Sushila Ramaswamy, a political science professor at Jesus and Mary College, said Gandhi's disqualification could result in public sympathy for him.
"The matter of Rahul Gandhi's comment on Modi surname should have been overlooked as such a development will open up a Pandora's box," she told PTI, adding that BJP leaders too have levelled "all kinds of allegations" against members of the Opposition in the past.
Reacting to Gandhi's disqualification, former Congress leader Sanjay Jha said the BJP has united the entire Opposition ahead of the general elections next year. In a tweet, he said, "2024 comes closer. The BJP has united the entire Opposition." "It is time every political party works to defeat this brutal regime and brings to an end India's darkest age since 2014," Jha added.
Mayank Jain, director of Route Stawk Films Pvt Ltd, also felt that with his disqualification from Lok Sabha, Gandhi may attract sympathy "without much merit or effort".
"A word of caution: Never bring your opponent into the limelight, especially by criticising him all the time. Taking cue from Indira Gandhi, an opponent like Rahul could attract sympathy without much merit or effort," he tweeted.