EU Says it Is Closely Following Case Against Rahul Gandhi and His 'Dismissal' From Parliament – The Wire

Speaking exclusively to this correspondent, Peter Stano, the EU’s Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said, “The EU is following closely the case against Rahul Gandhi and his subsequent dismissal from the Parliament,” but will wait to make a statement as “we do not comment on a case that is still in court.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at a press conference on March 25, 2023, Saturday. Photo: Twitter@RahulGandhi
New Delhi: Joining the United States of America and Germany, the European Union (EU) has now stated that it too is keeping a close watch on the developments arising after the disqualification from Parliament of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi last week.
Barely a day after the controversy around law minister Kiren Rijiju attacking the Congress and Gandhi for “inviting foreign powers for interference into India’s internal matters” (he was pointing to a German foreign ministry spokesman’s statements on Gandhi’s disqualification), the EU is now formally following the Gandhi disqualification case.
Speaking exclusively to this correspondent from Brussels in reply to an email, Peter Stano, the EU’s lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said, “The EU is following closely the case against Rahul Gandhi and his subsequent dismissal from the Parliament,” but will wait to make a statement as “we do not comment on a case that is still in court.” In other words, the EU will watch the developments of the judicial process closely and wait until the court gives its verdict on Gandhi’s appeal.
This is similar to the statement of Germany’s foreign ministry spokesperson, who had said at a press conference two days ago that her country “expects that the standards of judicial independence and fundamental democratic principles will apply in this case,” while adding, “It will then become clear whether this verdict will stand and whether the suspension of his (Gandhi) mandate has any basis.”
The EU, however, went further to add the importance of the Opposition in a democracy, as Stano underlined, “Pluralism and open political debate are essential features of our democratic societies – this is what makes them vibrant and dynamic. The role of the Opposition is key in this respect.”
It was the US which was the first to comment on Gandhi’s disqualification when on Monday, State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel had said, “Respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy, and we are watching Mr Gandhi’s case in Indian courts, and we engage with the Government of India on our shared commitment to democratic values – including of course, freedom of expression.” It was in a reply to a question at the State Department’s daily briefing whether Gandhi’s disqualification was “consistent with democratic values.”
While Germany is a member of the EU, and has made its own independent statement, the official announcement today by the EU that includes 27 member states of the continent is a tacit nod of approval by all member European countries to follow the events post the Gandhi disqualification. The countries include France, Germany, Italy (this despite Italian PM Giorgio Meloni hailing Modi as the “most loved leader in the world” on her visit to Delhi early last month), Spain, the Netherlands and others.
Stano is forthright when he says, “The EU and its Member States support these fundamental values (the rule of law, judicial independence, protection of human rights and democratic values – including freedom of expression) both at home and around the world. We have regular interactions with India on these issues.”
Meanwhile, the unseemly controversy between Modi’s ministers and the Congress was sparked when an embarrassed Modi government, stung by the international scrutiny it was receiving turned the attention on its head when they sought to blame Rahul and the Congress for the unnecessary global deliberation among western democracies. The ministers got their cue from Congress leader Digvijay Singh’s tweet, in response to Germany’s statement, when he tweeted thanking Germany “for taking note of how Democracy is being compromised in India through the persecution of Rahul Gandhi.”
It was not just Rijiju who was up in arms accusing Rahul and the Congress for “inviting foreign powers for interference in India’s internal matters.” Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman sang the same tune, tweeting “Apparent that @INCIndia wants foreign interference in our affairs… During foreign interactions abroad, plead for help to change the (Modi) government. Thank them for help forthcoming. Any more proof needed?”
Information and braodcasting minister Anurag Thakur also lashed out, tweeting that Rahul and Congress don’t believe in fighting India’s “democratic, political and legal battle within country” and exalted the Modi government, like Rijiju, tweeting, “But New India headed by @NarendraModi ji will not tolerate any foreign intervention.”


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