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Rahul Gandhi aside, these high-profile leaders faced disqualification

A number of top political leaders have been disqualified from Parliament or Assembly upon conviction. Here are a few of them

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi

Udisha Srivastav New Delhi

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as Wayanad MP -- after a Surat trial court convicted him in a criminal defamation case and sentenced him to two years in prison -- has jolted opposition parties. Unless a higher court overturns the judgment, Rahul would be barred from contesting elections for eight years. 

But Rahul is not the first; several high-profile political leaders have been disqualified as an MP or an MLA earlier after facing court convictions. Here’s a list of five such prominent politicians:

1) Indira Gandhi 

Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was disqualified in 1975 due to a court decision. Following this decision, she was unseated as a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha.

A single-judge Bench of the Allahabad High Court found her guilty of committing corrupt electoral practices, such as seeking the assistance of gazetted officers, to further her election prospects. The court’s decision triggered Indira to declare a nationwide emergency in the same year.

2) Lalu Prasad

Rashtriya Janata Dal president and former Bihar chief minister (CM) Lalu Prasad was disqualified from the Lower House in 2013. Prasad’s disqualification happened due to his conviction by a Central Bureau of Investigation court. He was booked in a multi-crore fodder scam case under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) and sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment. 

In total, Yadav was disqualified for 11 years – a five-year jail term combined with six years from his release date.

3) Kuldeep Singh Sengar 

Kuldeep Singh Sengar was disqualified from the Uttar Pradesh Assembly in February 2020. Sengar was disqualified after his conviction in the Unnao rape case. In December 2019, a Delhi court pronounced its verdict and sentenced Sengar to life imprisonment. The Unnao rape case hit the headlines after the victim tried to immolate herself outside the chief minister’s residence.

Sengar was an MLA from the Bangarmau constituency who contested on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) ticket. He was later ousted from the party. 

4) J Jayalalithaa

In 2014, J Jayalalithaa, the then Tamil Nadu CM, faced disqualification after being convicted in a case regarding disproportionate assets worth ~66 crore. As a result, she became the first sitting CM to face such disqualification. She also had to resign from her office.

A trial court in Bengaluru had convicted Jayalalithaa, wherein the former DMK government filed the case against her in 1996. In connection with the case, she was sentenced to a four-year jail term and was asked to pay a fine of ~100 crore. 

5) Azam Khan

Azam Khan, a member of the Samajwadi Party, was disqualified from the Uttar Pradesh Assembly in October 2022. He was sentenced to three years in prison in a case of hate speech in 2019. 

A UP court convicted him while he was a sitting MLA from the state’s Rampur Sadar constituency.

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First Published: Mar 27 2023 | 5:25 PM IST

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