Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi has told the Supreme Court that he stands by his comment on the RSS and is ready to face a trial in the defamation case. Rahul's counsel in the case, and senior Congress leader, Kapil Sibal, withdrew his plea of quashing the defamation case against him from the Supreme Court, and told the court that Rahul will face trial in a lower court, according to ANI.
Rahul had, on 6 March, 2014, said, "In logo ne mara unhe... RSS ke logo ne Gandhi ji ko goli maari, aur aaj unke log Gandhi ji ki baate karte hain (These people shot Mahatma Gandhi and now their organisation talks about Gandhi ji)," according to a file video clip of CNN-News 18. His comments raked up a controversy, leading to a defamation case against him in the matter.
Rahul, however, sought exemption from personal appearance in the lower court during the course of the suit, but the apex court has refused the request.
Meanwhile SC refuses to grant Rahul Gandhi exemption from personal appearance before lower court in the defamation case.
— ANI (@ANI_news) September 1, 2016
Following this, the RSS lashed out at rahul, alleging lack of clarity in his stand. Questioning Rahul over his remark that he stood by every word he said about the outfit, RSS asked whether the Congress leader was talking about his affidavit or the "lie" in his public speeches, and demanded an apology from him. "Stand by everyword I said about RSS: R Gandhi. Which words, in affidavit filed in court or the 'lie' uttered in public speech?," RSS Communications department head Manmohan Vaidya said on Twitter recently, according to a PTI report.
Stand by every word I said about RSS: R.Gandhi. Which words, in affidavit filed in court or the "lie" uttered in public speech?
— RSS (@RSS_Org) August 28, 2016
Meanwhile, the Congress party has backed Rahul Gandhi's stand on the issue. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala addressed a press conference after the court hearing and said that the Congress party unequivocally supports Rahul on his statement. He told the reporters that for the Congress party, this is "a battle of ideologies and ideas." Terming the ongoing case as a myopic view of the overall fight, Surjewala said that the Congress party has always stood against the divisive forces and will continue to do so.
"We believe that no case of defamation is made out and the summoning order is incorrect. But this is a smaller issue. The larger issue is the battle of ideologies," Surjewala said. Surjewala also said that anybody is welcome to fight any litigation on the issue and Rahul would be happy to fight that battle, both in a legal setup and in the people's court.
Reiterating Rahul's remark on the RSS, Surjewala said that Nathuram Godse was Mahatma Gandhi's assassin and the fact that he was a follower of the RSS ideology is common knowledge. "We have sufficient historical evidence to back the facts," he said. He also alleged that the "same divisive ideology" is guiding the RSS and many people in BJP even today. Surjewala also brought up BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj's comments wherein he allegedly called Godse a 'martyr'.
Kapil Sibal also briefed the press reiterating the Congress party's stand. He said that the Congress party doesn't believe there is a valid case of defamation and they will fight it in a court but the overall issue is of ideologies. "If RSS is an ideology, we will fight it." He also sought to clarify that RSS does not stand for Hinduism and that party is against the ideology that RSS represents. Taking a potshot on the RSS, he called it the 'divisive forces'. "This battle will decide who are the real Hindus," Sibal added.
Ye ladayi adaalat ki nahin hai, iss ladayi mein yeh faisla hoga ki asli Hindu kaun hai: Kapil Sibal, RG's counsel on Rahul Gandhi-RSS
— ANI (@ANI_news) September 1, 2016
According to CNN-News 18, the RSS had said that it was ready to withdraw the case if Rahul tenders a public apology and retracts his words. The report said that the RSS' counsel had submitted a written statement that if Rahul ratified, they will withdraw the case.
However, the Congress second-in-command had for now chosen to stand by his statement and go ahead with the case.
Earlier on 24 August, Rahul had told the court that he had never accused RSS as an institution that killed Mahatma Gandhi. However, a day after this comment, clarifying his stance on the matter, the Congress V-P tweeted out that he stands by his word.
I will never stop fighting the hateful & divisive agenda of the RSS. I stand by every single word I saidhttps://t.co/bUWzTHrgHW
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) August 25, 2016
In May 2015, the Congress V-P had moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the Bombay High Court order dismissing his plea for quashing a defamation case against him for allegedly blaming the saffron organisation for the killing of Mahatma Gandhi.