New Delhi Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said he was paying the price for speaking the truth and vowed to continue to raise people’s issues as he vacated his official bungalow in Lutyens’ Delhi and shifted to his mother Sonia Gandhi’s residence on Saturday.
Gandhi, who was disqualified from Lok Sabha last month following his conviction in a defamation case, was asked to vacate the 12, Tughlaq Lane bungalow by April 22.
“I have paid the price for speaking the truth, I am ready to pay any price,” he said, adding he would continue to raise issues of price rise and corruption with double the force.
Saturday morning, Gandhi moved out all his belongings from the bungalow where he had been staying for almost two decades.
Gandhi, his mother Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visited the bungalow in the morning. He handed over keys of the vacated house to officials of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
Talking to reporters while leaving the bungalow, he said, “I have no problem even if it has been snatched away from me. This house was given to me by the people of India. I will stay with the former Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) at 10, Janpath for some time and then find some other way.”
Asked that he could have requested for more time to vacate the bungalow, Gandhi said, “I do not want to stay in this house.” The Congress said the government may “evict” Gandhi from a house but he occupies a place in the hearts and homes of crores of Indians.
The party also launched a “MeraGharAapkaGhar” campaign on social media with party leaders offering their homes to Gandhi.
The Congress said on its official Twitter handle in Hindi that “this country is the home of Rahul Gandhi. Rahul who resides in the hearts of people.” “Rahul’s relation with the public is unbreakable. Some see in him their son, some brother, some their leader…. Rahul belongs to everyone and everyone belongs to Rahul. This is the reason why today the country is saying- Rahul ji, my house-your house,” the Congress said, using the hashtag “#MeraGharAapkaGhar”.
AICC general secretary K C Venugopal said, “They may evict you from a house, but you will always have a place in all our homes and hearts, Rahul ji. We know that such episodes won’t deter you from raising the voice of the people and speaking truth to power.” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said Rahul Gandhi is neither worried about the post nor about the government house. “He did not compromise on his principles even after risking everything,” he said.
He also took a swipe at former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who continues to be at his official residence allotted to him as the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, saying Rahul Gandhi is not a “Ghulam”.
Another Congress spokesperson, Supriya Shrinate, said, “A house is not made of four walls and a cement roof. Home is a feeling – of peace, of love. And when crores of people open the doors of their hearts and homes for you, then it is even better.” “Rahul ji vacated his official residence today – his goal and destination is much higher than a house, much higher. No one can scare or silence this satyagrahi of truth because he is ready to pay any cost. #MeraGharAapkaGhar A small proof of this country’s love for you Rahul ji,” Shrinate said on Twitter.
“Today Rahul Gandhi vacates his home at Tughlaq Lane in response to the LokSabha Secretariat’s order. The Court gave him 30 days to appeal and the HC or SC could still reinstate him, but his exemplary gesture to move out shows his respect for the rules,” said party MP Shashi Tharoor in a tweet.
Gandhi, the former Congress chief, was disqualified from Parliament after a Surat court convicted and awarded a two-year sentence to him in a defamation case over his Modi surname remarks made in Kolar in Karnataka in 2019.
He moved a sessions court against the magistrate’s order but his plea was rejected. A relief on his conviction and disqualification could have paved the way for him to retain his official bungalow, allotted to him as a Wayanad MP.
Gandhi will now move the high court against the sessions court order.