Rahul regrets saying SC endorsed his ‘chowkidar chor hai’ slogan

Congress president Rahul Gandhi expressed “regret” for saying a Supreme Court ruling endorsed his “Chowkidar chor hai” stand, but hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging he had commented on the Rafale deal case although it was under judicial consideration.

Politically, the development is significant because it puts the focus back on the “chowkidar” narrative in the ongoing elections. Soon after Gandhi’s affidavit was filed in the Supreme Court, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress engaged in a war of words over the issue.

Gandhi’s move came in response to a contempt petition filed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi on a statement he had made while filing his nomination in Amethi on 10 April. At the time, Gandhi had said that the apex court’s decision to admit certain documents in the case on the Rafale fighter jet deal, in which the Congress alleges government corruption, meant that “Supreme Court ne kaha hai ki chowkidar hi chor hai” (Supreme Court has said that the watchman is the thief).

Gandhi clarified that on 10 April when he reached the district collector’s room in Amethi he was “accosted” by local journalists who wanted his reaction on the Rafale judgement. Gandhi said he had not read the order and gave a reaction based on what he had read on the electronic and social media.
“My statement was made in the heat of political campaigning. It has been used (and misused) by my political opponents to project that I had deliberately and intentionally suggested that this Court had said Chowkidar Chor Hai! Nothing could be further from my mind,” Gandhi said.

Hitting back at the government, Gandhi alleged that Modi, despite the fact that the Rafale case was sub judice, has given interviews and statements stating that “Hon’ble Supreme Court of India had given him a clean chit in the Rafale deal”.

The affidavit provided a detailed table with the names, statements and the sources of the statements made by Modi and other senior leaders of the BJP.

Gandhi prayed for a dismissal of the case with costs, arguing the petitioners had intentionally dragged the court to create “political controversy for personal gains and political mileage.”

On 10 April, the Supreme Court had announced its decision to allow leaked Rafale documents to review a previous judgement overruling government objections, following which Gandhi claimed moral victory and said the court had made it clear that Modi “committed theft.”

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