Months after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from parliament after being convicted in a criminal defamation case for his 'Modi surname' remark, the Election Commission has initiated the process to hold a by-election to the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat. In March this year, a Gujarat court had sentenced Gandhi to two years in jail in the case, following which the Lok Sabha Speaker disqualified him from the House membership.

In a letter sent to recognised political parties on June 5, the Deputy District Magistrate, as district election officer of Kozhikode, had said that after verification of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) systems, a mock poll would be held on June 7, followed by the by-election to the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat. The ec's move comes at a time when Rahul's review petition against the Surat sessions court's order dismissing his plea seeking stay on his conviction is pending in the Gujarat High Court.

The Congress has alleged that there is a "mystery" behind the EC's move. The party questioned how the commission knew about the court's decision in advance while the appeal was pending. Kozhikode District Congress Committee chief K Praveen Kumar said, "Preparations have been started for the by-election to Wayanad Lok Sabha seat even before the High Court's decision on Rahul's plea. It is mysterious and suspicious," he said.

He said the people of the country want to know on whose instructions the Election Commission has started working for the by-election in Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary and MLA Mathew Kuzlandan alleged that there was "political vendetta" behind the move. He alleged that ever since Gandhi had exposed "suspicious dealings" with the Adani group in a speech in the Lok Sabha, the BJP government at the Centre was taking hasty steps against him. He said holding a by-election in Rahul's constituency was also part of the vendetta politics against him.

The Congress MLA also said Rahul has become stronger after the party's landslide victory in the Karnataka Assembly polls and he is not afraid of any move by the BJP government targeting him. Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha on March 2019, nearly 24 hours after he was convicted by a Surat (Gujarat) court in a 52 defamation case. After being disqualified from the Lok Sabha membership, the <>-year-old four-time MP will not be able to contest elections for eight years unless his conviction is stayed by a higher court.

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(Apart from the headline, this news has not been edited by the NDTV team, it has been published directly from the Syndicate feed.) )