New Delhi: 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.
- Congress leader accused of defaming RSS, ideological mentor of BJP
- RSS says Gandhi publicly blamed it for assassination of the Mahatma
- Gandhi says won't apologise, top court orders him to attend hearings
Just 15 months ago, Mr Gandhi, who is No 2 in the Congress, had asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the criminal case filed against him for blaming the RSS, in a pre-election speech in 2014, for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.
The RSS said that it could withdraw the case if he states publicly that he does not blame it as an institution for the death of the Mahatma. Mr Gandhi said that's not an option.
"I stand by each and every word. I will never take my words back... I am ready to go to trial," 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 a court in Maharashtra which is handling the case.
The BJP and the RSS today said that Mr Gandhi's actions reflect a state of constant confusion. Why did he ask the Supreme Court to drop the case against him, only to backpedal today, they asked. "This is another u-turn by Rahul Gandhi. It shows that the Congress is not ready to face the truth. If he is ready to face trial now, why did they avoid it for two years," challenged MG Vaidya, the top ideologue of the RSS.
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 filed the case against him.
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 his constituency of Amethi, Mr Gandhi said, "Those who wanted to break India are now trying to be nationalists", enlarging upon his stated commitment earlier this month to "fighting the hateful and divisive agenda of the RSS."