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Gandhi plea to suspend conviction in Modi surname case rejected

Indian opposition leader's election hopes take a hit; appeal heads to high court

Rahul Gandhi, center, a senior leader in India's main opposition Congress party, arrives to file his appeal in a Gujarat court on April 3.   © Reuters

NEW DELHI -- Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi's petition seeking a stay on a defamation conviction was dismissed on Thursday by a court in the state of Gujarat, casting further doubt on his ability to run next year's general elections.

The 52-year-old Indian National Congress party leader was given a two-year prison sentence on March 23 by a metropolitan court in Surat, in the same state, over remarks he made in 2019, when he asked why "all thieves have Modi as a common surname." The sentence was initially suspended for 30 days, but Gandhi was disqualified as a member of the lower house of parliament the next day.

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