The BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party are in yet another war of words.
The trigger this time is the Delhi government’s move to pay a Rs 3.4-crore legal bill that chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has to foot in a defamation suit filed against him by finance minister Arun Jaitley.
The Delhi government on Tuesday defended the decision to pay senior advocate Ram Jethmalani from the exchequer but the BJP equated the move with dacoity and corruption.
Jethmalani has said he won’t take the money if Kejriwal was unable to pay and would treat the chief minister as a poor client.
A lowdown on the latest controversy to hit AAP:
1. In December 2015, Jaitley filed a criminal complaint alleging that the Kejriwal and other AAP leaders made defamatory statements against him about his tenure as the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) president.
2. The Delhi government has sought lieutenant governor Anil Baijal’s approval to pay the bill raised by Jethmalani. The bill, reports say, was raised on December 1, 2016.
3. Defending the move, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia has said the government should bear the cost as the defamation case is the outcome of an inquiry initiated by it in alleged corruption in DDCA.
“The government had initiated inquiry against corruption in DDCA. People, who are involved in it, have filed the (defamation) case. Why should Arvind Kejriwal pay the bills in personal capacity?” Sisodia said on Tuesday. The move was an attempt to divert attention from the “controversy surrounding EVMs”.
4. It was Sisodia who had in December asked for the release of appearance fee. But, the law department raised concerns and the matter was referred to Baijal, who was seeking legal opinion, reports have said.
5. The Delhi government’s move to use public money in a personal case against Kejriwal was corruption and the BJP would not allow “looting” of the people, Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday.
“This is completely immoral, illegal. A personal case has to be fought with personal money, not with public money. This is the real character of this party (AAP),” Javadekar said, adding Jaitley was paying for his lawyer in the case.
6. Jethmalani has said he would treat Kejriwal as a poor client and wouldn’t ask for fee. “I charge only the rich but for the poor I work for free. If the (Delhi) government doesn’t pay or he (Kejriwal) can’t pay, I will appear for free. (I) will treat him as one of my poor clients,” Jethmalani told mediapersons.