Indian Decade

Rahul Gandhi in Court Challenge

Rahul Gandhi has been issued a court notice over a missing woman. Is the allegation politically motivated?

Rahul Gandhi, the MP from Amethi and prime minister-in-waiting, is a staple for the Indian media. The 41-year-old Gandhi scion is always in the news, generally for good reasons—just a few days ago he played good Samaritan by taking a bleeding road accident victim to New Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia hostpital, possibly saving his life.

And whenever he gets bad publicity, it’s usually attributed to his political opponents (the BJP, Samajwadi Party and his main critic, the Bahujan Samaj Party’s supreme boss and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati).

But the past few days have been a setback for the Indian crown prince. First, he fractured his leg when one of his intensive workout sessions went awry. Then, because of the injury, he had to skip his government’s budget presentation on February 28. The fracture and his absence from the Lok Sabha on budget day was widely commented upon in the Indian media.

But what happened this week is a potentially much more serious blow.

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On March 1, the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court issued a notice to him over a petition seeking information about the whereabouts of a missing girl and her family. The petitioner, Kishore Samrite—a former Samajwadi Party lawmaker from Madhya Pradesh—has accused the Congress general secretary and five of his ‘foreigner friends’ of criminal assault on a 24-year-old girl who’d gone to meet him in Amethi on December 13, 2006. The petitioner has alleged that the girl, Sukanya Singh, has been missing ever since.

The very fact that the high court issued the notice to Rahul is a serious development in itself, as it suggests that the court finds some merit in the petitioner’s case. The petitioner wants the court to issue a writ of habeas corpus to the lawmaker to produce the girl.

The Sukanya Singh case has clearly given some heavy ammunition to Rahul’s political enemies, though it’s yet to be established whether the case itself is genuine or part of a political vendetta. So far, his political opponents have refrained from commenting over the matter. But they’re not going to keep quiet for long.