Shillong, Mar 25 (IANS): Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma on Saturday termed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's "action of challenging" Prime Minister Narendra Modi as "unfortunate" following his conviction in a defamation case by a Surat court.
Reacting to Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from the Lok Sabha on Friday following the court verdict, in which he has been handed a two-year jail term, Conrad said it was unfortunate that the Congress leader didn't accept the court ruling and the rules laid down by the Election Commission of India.
Sangma, the national President of Meghalaya's ruling National People's Party (NPP), suggested that Rahul Gandhi should accept the verdict of the court rather than attacking the Prime Minister.
"Also, he should accept the rules laid down by the ECI," he told the media in Shillong.
On Thursday, a Surat court had found Rahul Gandhi guilty and sentenced him to two years in prison in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surname. The Congress leader, however, was granted bail and his sentence was suspended for 30 days to allow him to appeal the Surat court verdict.
The case was filed against Rahul Gandhi by BJP MLA and ex-Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi for saying "how come all thieves have the common surname Modi" while campaigning in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
"Such a statement is an insult not just to the Prime Minister, but also to the entire OBC community," Sangma said.
He also asked Rahul Gandhi to apologise for his statement and focus on course correction rather than challenging the PM at this moment.
When asked if the latest development will impact the prospects of the Congress in next year's general elections, the NPP chief said that it will undoubtedly affect Congress' prospects in 2024.
"The Congress faced a difficult situation in 2014 and 2019, and the latest development will further impact the party in the run-up to the 2024 elections," he said.