Washington [US]: The United States is watching Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s case in Indian courts, US Department of State Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said on Monday (local time), adding that the US engages with the Indian government on a shared commitment to democratic values, including freedom of expression.
“Respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy, and we’re watching Mr Gandhi’s (Rahul Gandhi) case in Indian courts,” he said in a press briefing while responding to a question regarding Rahul Gandhi’s expulsion from the Indian Parliament. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was disqualified on Friday as a Member of Lok Sabha (MP) from the date of his conviction in the criminal defamation case over his ‘Modi surname’ remark. Rahul Gandhi was an MP from the seat of Wayanad in Kerala.
“The US engages with the government of India on our shared commitment to democratic values, including of course freedom of expression in our engagements with our Indian partners,” he added.
“We continue to highlight the importance of democratic principles and the protection of human rights including freedom of expression as a key to strengthening both our democracies,” Vedant Patel said.
When asked whether the US is engaging with India or Rahul Gandhi, he said, “I don’t have any specific engagements to read out… but as I am sure you know some of these covered this department for some time it is normal and standard for us to engage with members of opposition parties in any country where we have bilateral relationships but I don’t have any specific engagement to read out.”
The development comes after the Surat court on Thursday, sentenced Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to two years imprisonment in a defamation case over his ‘Modi surname’ remark made in 2019 during an election rally in Karnataka.
Rahul Gandhi made the “how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname” remark in April 2019, at a Lok Sabha election rally at Kolar in Karnataka. The criminal defamation case against Rahul Gandhi was filed by BJP MLA from Surat West Purnesh Modi.