The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday asserted that the law will take its course if Rahul Gandhi abuses people and slammed the Congress over its criticism of his conviction in a defamation case, asking whether the opposition party wants "complete freedom" for him to "abuse" others.
Addressing a press conference, BJP leader and former law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also cautioned Gandhi against making defamatory remarks, saying the Congress leader will find himself facing "more troubles" if he doesn't refrain from doing so.
He also hit out at Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge for questioning the court's order by reportedly noting that several judges hearing the matter were changed.
The BJP leader advised him to make responsible comments and said, "Kharge is the president of a national party and what does he mean by saying that the judge was changed again and again?"
"It is a serious issue of contempt (of court) also," Prasad said and added that it was "grossly unfair" on the part of Kharge to make such comments.
Making such comments show that the Congress does not believe in the judiciary, he said and asked, "Does it want to keep even the judiciary in its pocket."
"If they think that they would get action in their favour by levelling allegations against the judiciary and putting pressure on it, it is their misconception," he said.
Asked whether Gandhi will be disqualified from Lok Sabha, Prasad cited the provisions made in the Representation of People Act in this regard and said it is for Speaker Om Birla to decide. "This is speaker's decision. I don't have to say anything on that," he said.
On Thursday, a court in Gujarat's Surat sentenced Gandhi to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his "Modi surname" remarks.
The case was filed against the Congress MP for his alleged "how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?" remark on a complaint lodged by BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi.
Prasad said Gandhi with his comments insulted people with the Modi surname, asserting that it was very much defamatory.
"The Congress party and others are saying many things but they are not saying what Rahul Gandhi had said," he said and asked, "Won't any action be taken against you if you insult a surname in such a way."
He said Gandhi got the opportunity to defend his case and his lawyers argued in the court before the verdict was given. He has been convicted in the case because the court was not convinced with the arguments made in his defence, Prasad added.
It has become Gandhi's "nature" to weaken and defame the country as well as level the "filthiest abuse like accusations" against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, Prasad said, cautioning him against continuing with such remarks.
A number of defamation cases has been filed against Gandhi for his remarks, he said.
"And, if you keep speaking, you will be in more trouble," he cautioned the former Congress president, suggesting that Congress leaders make him understand "what to say and how to say".
Referring the defamation case in Gujarat, Prasad said a similar case was filed against Gandhi in Patna by BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi and its proceedings are underway.
The BJP leader also took a swipe at Gandhi for his remarks in a tweet after the court's verdict in his case in Gujarat, asking if his faith in truth and non-violence meant insulting people by abusing them citing their caste.
"You will abuse freely, insult the country's Army, make fun of the martyrs' supreme sacrifices, insult patriotism, insult people's votes, people's mandate and say you are worshipper of 'satya' (truth) and 'ahimsa' (non-violence)," he charged.
Prasad said if the Congress leader has the right to abuse people, those aggrieved also have right to file case against him.
"Does Congress want Rahul Gandhi to have complete freedom to abuse people? There is rule of law in the country and it will prevail," the BJP leader said, alleging that the Congress leader has a history of making defamatory comments and unfounded allegations.
"The law of India has it that if an individual or an organisation has been defamed with scurrilous statements, scandalous comments, abuses or any defamatory remarks, then he has a right to seek redress. But the Congress party has an objection. It wants complete freedom for Rahul Gandhi to throw abuses," he added.
The BJP leader also lashed out at Gandhi for his recent democracy remarks in the UK, saying democracy is run by certain probity and propriety with regard to fair play.
"One of the most element of that is you please respect the popular verdict," he added.