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Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi loses parliamentary seat

Published:Friday | March 24, 2023 | 10:32 AM
India's opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi speaks during a meeting of his party workers in Ahmedabad, India, Monday, September 5, 2022. Gandhi has lost his parliamentary seat after he was disqualified following a court decision that found him guilty of defamation over his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last name, a parliamentary statement said on Friday, March 24. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)

NEW DELHI (AP) — Key Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has lost his parliamentary seat after a court found him guilty of defamation over his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surname and he was disqualified from the lawmaking body, a parliamentary statement said on Friday.

Gandhi, who represented a constituency in southern Kerala state as a member of the Congress party, was disqualified from his membership in the lower house of Parliament from March 23, the date of his conviction, the statement said.

Indian parliamentary rules say that a member loses his or her seat if convicted of a crime and sentenced to two or more years in prison.

A court in the western city of Surat sentenced Gandhi to two years in prison on Thursday in the defamation case.

But he won't go to jail immediately because the court granted him bail for 30 days to file an appeal against the verdict.

If an appeals court sets aside Gandhi's conviction, he can get his seat back.

Gandhi briefly visited the Parliament on Friday morning.

Several opposition leaders blocked proceedings in Parliament on Friday and later tried to march to the president's palace in support of Gandhi, holding a sign that read: “Democracy in danger.”

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