Is Kejriwal suddenly scared of Jaitley's defamation suit?
The Delhi CM has a habit of targeting senior politicians without any concrete proof.
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Has Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had sought to corner Union finance minister Arun Jaitley over the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) case, now developed cold feet over Jaitley's Rs 10-crore defamation suit filed against him and five others of the AAP? Or have cracks developed within the AAP in the wake of the defamation suit?
Jaitley had filed the suit against Kejriwal, Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai after they made allegations against him for irregularities and financial bungling in the DDCA during his term as its president between 1999 and 2013.
Bajpai, a senior AAP spokesperson, approached the Delhi High Court seeking rejection of the defamation suit filed against him on the ground that Jaitley had not made any specific averments against him. Bajpai requested that he should be removed as a defendant in the case.
During the arguments on February 8, senior advocate HS Phoolka, who appeared for Bajpai, said, "No averments against defendent 6 [Bajpai] is made out in the plaint even as per the documents referred to in the plaint."
Senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, who represented Jaitley, countered Bajpai's plea and argued that the plaint has specifically mentioned that the defamatory statements were made both individually and collectively as part of a conspiracy. He also said that Bajpai's Twitter handle made several defamatory remarks against Jaitley.
The bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi dismissed Bajpai's plea after it queried that "in the plaint, the plaintiff has repeatedly said all defendants, so it doesn't mean that the plaint should exclusively mention defendant 6".
The development clearly points towards two possibilities: either the AAP leaders have suddenly got too frightened of the final outcome of the suit or the party is on the verge of another split.
Kejriwal is in the habit of targeting senior politicians without any concrete proof. Before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he had released a list of 27 alleged "beimaan" (dishonest) politicians. One of them, Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari had filed a defamation suit against Kejriwal, who after failing to prove his allegations was arrested and sent to jail in May 2014. He finally reached a compromise with the Union minister in May 2015.
It is probable that the same fate awaits the Delhi chief minister now because neither has the DDCA found any incriminating evidence against Jaitley nor have Kejriwal and his team come up with any solid proof against the Union finance minister so far.
By making Bajpai file a plea, Kejriwal may be testing the waters and, thus, may be trying to wriggle out of a messy situation. But that has backfired, with the court dismissing the plea. Or, Bajpai personally may be trying to extricate himself from the situation and, hence, he individually approached the court to request dropping of his name from the list of six defendants.
Otherwise, the AAP has not succeeded even if it is some kind of a strategy devised by the party or its legal team. It has only led to embarrassment for the party. While the court has dismissed Bajpai's plea, the whole episode has also sent the wrong impression about the AAP.