India's opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi leaves a court in Ahmadabad, India, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. Gandhi…
India's opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi leaves a court in Ahmadabad, India, Oct. 11, 2019.

NEW DELHI - The former leader of India's opposition Congress party and descendant of a string of prime ministers has pleaded not guilty in two separate defamation cases filed against him in Gujarat state.

Rahul Gandhi entered the pleas in the two cases on Thursday and Friday.
 
Both cases were filed by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and involve statements made during an election campaign in April 2019.

In one, Gandhi is accused of referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a thief, and in the other, of calling India's home minister an accused murderer.

He was charged with criminal defamation, which provides a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment.

A senior fellow at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy in Bangalore, Alok Prasanna, says Gandhi is unlikely to be convicted.

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