Kejriwal hires Chidambaram in SC, Congress calls him a hypocrite
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to hire Congress leader P Chidambaram in his legal battle against the Centre, has sparked a political row.
The Delhi unit of the Congress has accused Kejriwal of hypocrisy as in the past he has leveled allegations of corruption against Chidambaram.
The former union minister will be arguing in the Supreme Court for the Kejriwal government, which has repeatedly accused the Centre’s ruling BJP of using the Lt. Governor in needling and interfering with the Delhi government’s functioning.
The Kejriwal government has filed multiple petitions challenging the Delhi High Court’s earlier verdict upholding the supremacy of the Lt. Governor in administering Delhi. In its verdict August last, the High Court declared the Lt. Governor to be the “administrative head” of Delhi and was not bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party maintain that the LG and the Centre’s persistent interference hamper the functioning of his government. Through the petitions, they are seeking a judicial declaration on the boundaries of the constitutional relationship between Centre and the Delhi government.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan began hearing the multiple petitions from Thursday.
Going by Kejriwal’s earlier stinging criticism of Chidambaram, the news of the former Union minister representing the AAP government raised several eyebrows.
If the BJP used the opportunity to allege a deal between the Congress and the AAP, Congress leaders like Ajay Maken and Sandeep Dikshit pointed to Kejriwal’s hypocrisy.
Sandeep Ji, I entirely agree!— Ajay Maken (@ajaymaken) November 3, 2017
Sheila ji,under the same set of Rules could perform&win 6 elections!
Kejriwal only looks for excuses &refuge? https://t.co/ccriXk3VXr
Kejriwal abuses Mr Chid'm as corrupt to suit his naked ambitions then uses him as a "great lawyer" Ethics anybody?https://t.co/fjfW0yAoEK— Sandeep Dikshit (@_SandeepDikshit) November 3, 2017
“Sheila ji, under the same set of rules could perform and win 6 elections! Kejriwal only looks for excuses &refuge,” tweeted Maken reiterating the party’s stand that Centre’s inference was a mere excuse by the Kejriwal government.
Congress leaders further suggest that Kejriwal’s decision to hire Chidambaram was a political trick to portray an affinity between AAP and Congress to confuse voters in Gujarat. The Congress has been alleging that AAP is splitting anti-BJP votes especially in seats where the Congress and BJP are locked in a tight contest.
However, it appears that Chidambaram would now be spearheading the Delhi government arguments before the court against Centre’s interference.
During the last hearing on November 2, the AAP government contended that the Centre through the Lt. Governor “completely paralysed executive functions of the state government and there was a daily effect on the governance”
The counsel for Delhi government argued that the LG was behaving as a “super Governor” to stall every executive action.
The Delhi BJP was quick to latch on to the issue and declared a tacit deal between the Congress and the AAP.
Lawyers and politics
However, this is not the first time that a lawyer-politician has given preference to profession over politics.
Incidentally, Chidambaram now in the centre of the controversy had been a beneficiary of such a move. Arun Jaitley, who is now the Union finance minister, had defended his predecessor in the “Fairgrowth” case in 1998.
The then Janata Party President Subramaniam Swamy had moved the Delhi High Court seeking prosecution of the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram for allegedly not disclosing the true value of promoters' shares of Fairgrowth Financial Services Ltd which he had bought in 1992.
The HC had rejected the petition.
Jaitley had also attracted displeasure from his own party for standing in defence of stock broker Ketan Parekh the prime accused in the Madhavpura Mercantile Cooperative Bank (MMCB) scam.
Jaitley had also defended Congress leader PJ Kurien in the Suryanelli rape case.
Jaitley’s former party colleague and prominent advocate Ram Jethmalani is known for his legal acumen as much for opting for controversial clients.
Jethmalani who was expelled from the BJP in 2013 caused much embarrassment to the party when he chose to defend DMK leader Kanimozhi in the 2G scam case.
His move came at a time when the BJP then in Opposition had been going hammer and tongs against the ruling Congress led UPA over the mega scam.
The Congress too has its fair share of lawyer-politicians who have created controversy.
One such is former union minister Kapil Sibal who attracted severe criticism from within the party for representing the Trinamool Congress in the multi-crore rupee Saradha chit fund scam.
Besides arguing for the bail of former West Bengal minister Madan Mitra, a prime accused the scam, Sibal had represented the Mamata Banerjee government in a petition in the Supreme Court concerning the CBI probe into the Saradha scam.
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi had appeared for Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar who had challenged the Akrama-Sakrama scheme by the Congress government in Karnataka.