A court in India's western state of Gujarat on Thursday rejected Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's petition seeking a stay of conviction in a defamation case, a member of his legal team said.

“The Surat district court has not granted a stay on Rahul Gandhi’s conviction,” Naishadh Desai, a Congress leader and lawyer, told reporters.

“We are going to challenge the decision in Gujarat High Court tomorrow. We have full faith that the judiciary will uphold justice and save the democracy,” he said.

While Thursday’s ruling was a setback for Gandhi, his jail sentence remained suspended until he exhausts all his legal challenges to the conviction.

Gandhi was convicted last month in a case brought by a state lawmaker from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after comments the Congress party leader made in a 2019 speech were deemed to be insulting to the prime minister and other people surnamed Modi.

PTI reported that his disqualification from the Lok Sabha will bar Gandhi (52), a four-time MP, from contesting polls for eight years unless a higher court stays his conviction. In March, the Congress with its president Mallikarjun Kharge and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra staged a satyagraha at Raj Ghat in the national capital.

The Congress leader had claimed that the action against him was taken because Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “scared” of his next speech in Parliament on the Adani issue and alleged that the “whole game” was to distract people from the issue and the panic the government was feeling over the matter.

The Congress had said that Rahul Gandhi is not alone and millions of Congressmen and people irrespective of their political affiliations will join him in this fight for truth and justice.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Telangana Cong chief Revanth Reddy earlier lashed out at BJP after the disqualification was announced.