Surat | Jagran News Desk: Rahul Gandhi -- who arrived in Surat on Thursday -- pleaded not guilty in the defamation case filed against him for his remark “why do all thieves have Modi in their names”.  

During the hearing, the former Congress President said that he did not say anything wrong when he said all thieves share the Modi surname.

Rahul also filed an application for a permanent exemption from future court proceedings in this case. The court has set December 10 as the date of reply to Rahul’s application.

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“I am in Surat today to appear in a defamation case filed against me by my political opponents, desperate to silence me. I am grateful for the love and support of the Congress workers who have gathered here to express their solidarity with me,” said the Congress leaders in a Tweet this morning.

Rahul, during a rally at Kolar in Karnataka on 13 April 2019, had said that all thieves have ‘Modi’ as their common surname.

“Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi... how come they all have Modi as common surname? How come all thieves have Modi as common surname?” Rahul had said then.

After this, a complaint was filed against him by a local BJP MLA Purnesh Modi under IPC sections 499 and 500, which deal with criminal defamation. In his complaint, the BJP legislator from Surat-West had alleged the Congress leader had defamed the entire Modi community with his remark, made during the Lok Sabha campaign this year.

The Congress, however, came out in his support and claimed that his remarks were directed at allegations of corruption against businessmen Lalit Modi and Nirav Modi and the former Congress President tried to highlight the failures of the Modi government.

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“In a democracy, party in power should tolerate criticism of opposition. Rahulji had said Lalit Modi and Nirav Modi are thieves and Narendra Modi is a failure. BJP connected his statement to Modi community and insulted them,” news agency ANI quoted Bihar Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil as saying.

Meanwhile, a meeting was held by the Gujarat Congress President Amit Chavda on Tuesday to prepare the party workers for Rahul Gandhi's court appearance.

“Rahulji will be accorded a grand welcome by our party workers on the entire route from the airport to the court,” he had said earlier.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma