New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is set to vacate his official residence at 12 Tughlaq Lane in central Delhi today, following his disqualification as a Member of Parliament (MP) of the lower house of the Parliament. The Lok Sabha Housing Committee, headed by BJP MP CR Patil, had sent a letter to Mr. Gandhi asking him to vacate the bungalow by April 22, which he has been occupying since 2005.
While Mr. Gandhi is required to move out according to protocol, Congress leaders have accused the Centre of political vendetta. A disqualified MP is not entitled to a government accommodation and gets a one-month period to vacate his official residence. The Gujarat court had given him 30 days to file an appeal, which he did, and lost on Friday. This meant Mr. Gandhi cannot be reinstated as an MP for now.
Mr. Gandhi, who had filed an appeal following his conviction in a 2019 defamation case, was granted bail by the Surat Sessions Court on April 3. He was convicted by a court in Gujarat's Surat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, and sentenced to two years in prison for asking at an election rally whether people with the "Modi surname" were "thieves".
Last week, workers were seen moving around objects as two trucks lay parked outside 12 Tughlaq Lane. Mr. Gandhi, who agreed to vacate the house, has been swamped with offers for homes by party leaders. His office has said he will move to his mother Sonia Gandhi's bungalow in central Delhi's 10 Janpath.
Congress has alleged that the Centre is being vindictive in going after Mr. Gandhi, but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused Mr. Gandhi of "melodrama". "You know the lines of propriety, what is acceptable in the political system, the legal system. He (Rahul Gandhi) has been convicted by a court. Then, there are automatic procedures," Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said, alluding to Mr. Gandhi's disqualification.
The BJP called the appellate court's decision upholding the lower court's conviction a "slap in the face of the Gandhi family", and said that the court proved that the law is equal for all and "there cannot be preferential treatment for any family". Mr. Gandhi will now have to appeal in the Gujarat High Court or the Supreme Court against the Surat court's order to retain his Lok Sabha membership.