Soon after former Congress President Rahul Gandhi was convicted by a Surat Court in a criminal defamation case, he was declared disqualified from the Lok Sabha on Friday. 

Announcing the disqualification, the Lok Sabha Secretariat in a notification said it was effective March 23, the day Rahul was convicted.

The Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency was also declared vacant on Friday after Rahul’s disqualification with the Lok Sabha website also showing the constituency as vacant.

Protesting against this development, Congress on Friday announced a nationwide agitation, alleging that the government acted with lightning speed to “gag” him. 

The Congress leadership including Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, K C Venugopal, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and Jairam Ramesh among others, on Friday, attended a meeting where the party decided to launch a “jan-andolan.”

Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said that the party’s state units and frontal organisations will launch programmes across the country and will begin a countrywide agitation from Monday.

The Congress party has decided to observe a “black day” in Kerala’s Wayanad. 

The Wayanad District Congress Committee chief ND Appachan said that they will observe “black day” on Saturday. 

The Youth Congress workers also held a protest at the Bagepalli toll plaza in the Chikballapur district of Karnataka, the news agency ANI reported. Traffic movement was also disrupted in the area.

Rahul Gandhi, hours after his disqualification from Lok Sabha, in a tweet in Hindi, said that he is fighting for the people of the country and is ready to pay any price for it. Soon after his arrest, the Congress leader was out on a bail. 

A political row erupted after Rahul’s conviction followed by his Lok Sabha disqualification. A number of political personalities came out with their views. After the BJP labelled Rahul Gandhi “a habitual loose cannon” in a tweet, a number of opposition leaders slammed the government.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal slammed the BJP and PM Modi saying, “He (Modi) can’t run the govt but his ego is at the top.” He also said that India is being destroyed under Modi’s leadership.

“Unable to face Rahul Gandhi’s truth, the Narendra Modi government has disqualified him from Lok Sabha membership and displayed cowardice. This is a dark day in Indian parliamentary democracy,” said Congres leader Siddaramaiah in a press statement.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi told reporters on Friday, “My brother raised the Adani issue in Parliament and asked questions of the government. This is why he was disqualified as an MP.”

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor took a jibe at the government, while sharing a collage of a number of foreign media publications, saying, “They tried to silence a voice. Now every corner of the world hears the voice of India.”

Among others, Indian-American lawmaker Ro Khanna also commented on the row terming Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as a deep betrayal of Gandhian Philosophy and India’s deepest values. 

“The expulsion of Rahul Gandhi from parliament is a deep betrayal of Gandhian philosophy and India’s deepest values. This is not what my grandfather sacrificed years in jail for. @narendramodi you have the power to reverse this decision for the sake of Indian democracy,” Khanna tweeted on Friday.