Why Ram Jethmalani wants to bite Arun Jaitley's head off

Kumar Shakti Shekhar
Kumar Shakti ShekharMay 17, 2017 | 21:29

Why Ram Jethmalani wants to bite Arun Jaitley's head off

Today, for the fourth time, senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani cross-examined finance minister Arun Jaitley in a defamation case against Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders in the Delhi High Court.

It was also the fourth occasion, when the 93-year-old senior lawyer turned up the heat on the Union minister further and called him a “crook”.

So far during each cross-examination, Jethmalani has called Jaitley names such as “shameless” and “disaster” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He has also vowed to "ensure that one day Jaitley lands in jail".


While arguments in courts often turn heated, they rarely get personal, particularly between two of the top lawyers in the country.

The Jethmalani-Jaitley encounter seems to have crossed all limits of decorum in the courtroom.

This clearly indicates that there is more to the Jethmalani-Jaitley face-off than just meets the eye.

Photo: DailyO

In fact, a long-standing rivalry or jealousy seems to be the reason behind Jethmalani’s acute bitterness for the finance minister.

There may be two reasons — one, he may have a feeling that he has been wronged by the minister in the past. Two, he has earlier said on record that he felt “guilty” and “cheated” over not bringing back black money stashed abroad.

Personal rivalry

In the 1980s, Jaitley had assisted Jethmalani as a lawyer in legal battles between Nusli Wadia-owned Bombay Dyeing and Dhirubhai Ambani-headed Reliance Industries. Later, the two became ministers in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government at the Centre in 1998, with Jethmalani getting the coveted law ministry.

However, Jethmalani feels Jaitley conspired to snatch the ministry from him. In fact, he was dropped from the Cabinet and Jaitley succeeded him as the law minister. This could be the most important reason behind the nonagenarian’s aversion to Jaitley.


Black money

Much to the chagrin of the previous Congress-led UPA government, Jethmalani had been in the forefront of raising the black money issue. Along with senior BJP leader LK Advani, he had been accusing senior Congress leaders of stashing black money in banks abroad.

Also, much before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Jethmalani had spoken in favour of Narendra Modi and demanded that the latter be projected as BJP’s PM candidate.

However, he feels that after the BJP-led NDA came to power and Modi took over as the PM, the promise of bringing back black money has been forgotten and not much has been done in this regard.

“I feel cheated and consider myself guilty that I helped Modi. I have come here to tell you not to believe Modi,” he had said.

Jethmalani’s hatred against Jaitley is now being played out in the courtroom. The veteran lawyer may or may not succeed in getting relief for Arvind Kejriwal and others in AAP, but he has ensured that he would do maximum damage to Jaitley’s personal reputation for which, ironically, the latter has moved court.

Even if Jethmalani doesn't succeed in causing any damage to Jaitley’s reputation, he is certainly giving vent to his pent up ire and trying to give the finance minister some sleepless nights.


Last updated: May 17, 2017 | 21:41
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