New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi told the Supreme Court on Thursday that he is ready to be tried on charges of defaming the ruling BJP's ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS.
You may remember that 15 months ago, Rahul, who is No 2 in the Congress, had asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the criminal case filed against him for allegedly blaming the RSS, in a pre-election speech in 2014, for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.
The RSS, on its part, said that it could withdraw the case if Rahul states publicly that he does not blame it as an institution for the death of the Mahatma. Gandhi, however, said that's not an option.
"I stand by each and every word. I will never take my words back...I am ready to go to trial," Rahul said to judges through his lawyer, former union minister Kapil Sibal. The apex court has rejected his request to be exempted from appearing in person in a court in Maharashtra which is handling the case.
"This is another u-turn by Rahul Gandhi. It shows that the Congress is not ready to face the truth. If he is ready to face trial now, why did they avoid it for two years," questioned MG Vaidya, the top ideologue of the RSS.
Rahul Gandhi had told the Supreme Court a few days ago that he did not blame the RSS but "people associated with it" for the shooting of Gandhiji, and that his comments have been misinterpreted by the RSS activist from Maharashtra who filed the case against him.
His statement was claimed by the BJP and the RSS as evidence of Rahul's backtracking.
In response, Rahul said the next day, "I will never stop fighting hateful and the divisive agenda of RSS. I stand by every single word I said."