New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi will have to take a break from his foot march in Uttar Pradesh to appear at a Guwahati court to fight a defamation case filed by a worker of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The Congress says it is keen on making the occasion a "show of strength".
"Yes, Rahul Gandhi will be appearing in court on September 29," said Congress lawmaker Gaurav Gogoi. "Every time the Congress vice-president comes to Assam, there is a huge outpouring of support. Party workers from across Assam want to see him and will accompany him to the court," he added.
Sources say since the court hearing comes in the middle of Mr Gandhi's kisan yatra, the logistics of his Assam visit is still being worked out. But after losing political space to the BJP in the recent elections, the Congress is keen to convert the legal case into an ideological and political fight in a state that had been the party bastion for a decade-and-a-half.
In December, while launching the Congress campaign ahead of the assembly elections in Assam, Mr Gandhi was expected to visit the Barpeta Satra, a 16th century monastery, from where he was meant to start a foot march which was to end at a mosque.
But Mr Gandhi did not enter the monastery as there were some women pilgrims inside. The next day, he claimed in Parliament that some "RSS people" had stopped him from entering the temple.
"When I went to Assam I wanted to visit the Barpeta temple. The RSS people stopped me from going into the temple. This is the way BJP operates. They put women in front of me and prevented me from going in," he had said.
The RSS, the ideological mentor of the BJP, had questioned his claim and one of their workers filed a defamation case against him.
"He definitely defamed the RSS. On that particular day he never visited the Barpeta temple and whatever he uttered subsequently was false," said Bijon Mahajan, the advocate representing the RSS worker.
Mr Gandhi's stance of taking on the RSS comes barely days after he told the Supreme Court that he was ready to face trial in a defamation case in a Maharashtra court for linking RSS to Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.