The Supreme Court on November 14th, 2019 has closed a contempt case against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, which was filed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi after the then Congress president wrongly attributed his chowkidar chor hai (The watchman is a thief) jibe to the Supreme Court of India.
The apex court accepted Gandhi’s unconditional apology tendered earlier and asked the Congress leader to be “more careful in future”.
The Congress leader had made the remarks on April 10th, 2019, the day the apex court had dismissed the Centre’s preliminary objections over the admissibility of specific documents for supporting the review petitions against the December 14th, 2018 verdict in the Rafale case.
While commenting on the Supreme Court’s decision, Gandhi ended up attributing the chowkidar chor hai remark to the top court.
The slogan ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ was used by the Congress in its campaign for the 2019 Indian general election. The slogan was used against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after raising allegations of favouritism and price escalation in the Dassault Rafale deal.
Modi had in past claimed to be a chowkidar of the nation. The slogan was coined with the intention of conveying that the person who was entrusted with safeguarding public money was, in fact, a thief.
On March 14th, 2019, Modi responded to the jibe by launching a campaign with the slogan ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar‘ (I too am a watchman) for his supporters, implying that everyone is a fighter against corruption and social evils. Modi even changed the name of his official Twitter handle titled ‘Narendra Modi’ to ‘Chowkidar Narendra Modi’. Following suit, the BJP leaders and karyakartas across the country added the ‘Chowkidar’ prefix to their names in social media handles.
Photo credit: @RahulGandhi