Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 10
Back from holiday, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi today appeared in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate in Surat and pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal defamation.
He is facing a case at the hands of BJP’s Surat (West) MLA Purnesh Modi who has taken him to court for his comments made during a pre-Lok Sabha election rally. “Why do all the thieves have a common surname of Modi?” Gandhi said at a rally in Karnataka in April.
The court had in a previous hearing exempted Rahul from personal appearance asking him to come today.
Rahul tweeted thanks for support by party workers and appeared in the court pleading not guilty. His lawyers also moved an application seeking exemption for him from personal appearance during future hearings. The court said it would take up the request in December.
Rahul will also appear in a court in DescriptionAhmedabad tomorrow in a similar case. Importantly Rahul Gandhi, who had refused to take back his resignation as party chief in the wake of Congress’ dismal performance in LS poll, will again hit the election campaign circuit from October 13.
His office said he would campaign in Maharashtra on October 13 and 15 and in Haryana on October 14.
Congress leaders saw the release of his campaign dates as a signal of his willingness to return to the helm.
Already several Rahul Gandhi loyalists have quit the party after he gave up Congress presidency, among them former Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar and former chiefs of Congress units in Jharkhand and Tripura — Ajoy Kumar and Pradyot Debbarman.
“Rahul Gandhi’s campaigns are a signal that he is going to return to active party affairs,” said a leader.
His campaign plans were released by his office just a day after senior Congress leaders Salman Khurshid and Jyotiraditya Scindia said he should never have quit and should have stayed and helped the party introspect and resurrect.
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