The war of words between Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and the Press Council of India chairman Justice Markandey Katju escalated into a full-blown Congress-BJP spat on Monday, even as Katju and Jaitley stuck to their positions.
Katju had questioned the Gujarat government's development claims and said he found it hard to believe Narendra Modi had no hand in the 2002 riots.
Rejecting Jaitley's charge that he was making pro-Congress statements as a form of "thanks-giving" for his "post-retirement" position and should step down, Katju called for Jaitley's resignation, saying he (Katju) had also made anti-Congress statements and that the NDA too had appointed retired judges to various offices.
The Congress too jumped into the fray, with Digvijaya Singh saying Katju had always been impartial and very sensitive to people's causes.
"He has made reckless remarks against me, called me a megalomaniac… It was most unbefitting of a person who claims to be of his stature. So, in fact, he should resign and take 'sanyas' (retirement). He is not fit to be in politics," Katju said. "Did he ever raise the voice when his government was making post-retirement appointments? He never made a whisper. And so far as the chairman of Press Council is concerned, this post by convention has been given to retired judges of Supreme Court."
Yashwant Sinha too supported Jaitley, claiming Katju did not deserve to hold the office of the PCI chief. BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy dubbed Katju's opinion "bizarre".
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "Over the last eleven years, people of all colours, parties and views have at different times condemned Modi. Does it mean all of them are Congressmen?”
Katju had similar run-in with Nitish
PCI chairperson justice Markandey Katju’s war of words with BJP leader Arun Jaitley has a similarly acrimonious Bihar precedent.
In October last year, Katju declared Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had lost the goodwill of the state’s people. Kumar hit back a day later. “Some big people come to Bihar and leave after making disheartening comments. But I am not going to be weighed down by such remarks,” the CM had said. HTC