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Rahul Gandhi gets 2-year jail term in Modi surname case, given 30-day bail to appeal

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was found guilty and sentenced to two years in jail  on Thursday in a 2019 criminal defamation case that was filed over his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname.

The court in Surat announced the verdict and granted him bail for 30 days to appeal against its decision.

BJP MLA Purnesh Modi had filed the case alleging that Mr Gandhi, while addressing an election rally 2019, defamed the entire Modi community by saying, “How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?”

Rahul Gandhi had made the remarks while addressing a rally at Kolar in Karnataka during the 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign.

Purnesh Modi was a minister in the first tenure of the Bhupendra Patel government. He was re-elected from the Surat West Assembly seat in the December elections.

Rahul Gandhi arrived in Surat earlier in the day and was received by senior Congress leaders in the state.

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma had last week concluded hearing final arguments from both sides and set March 23 to pronounce its judgment in the four-year-old defamation case, Mr Gandhi’s lawyer Kirit Panwala had said.

Mr Gandhi had last appeared before the Surat court in the case, in October 2021 to record his statement.

The BJP has been demanding that Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party should apologise for the remarks.

BJP leader Amit Malviya welcomed the court verdict against Rahul Gandhi.

Commenting on the judgment, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said whenever Rahul Gandhi says something, he invites embarrassment to the nation and his party.

Meanwhile, Congress supporters assembled in the city at various points protest against the court verdict.