New Delhi: Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju's remarks on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi have not gone down well with the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has accused him of being biased. A day after BJP leader Arun Jaitley demanded Katju's resignation, the party yet again attacked him on Monday calling his opinion 'unsolicited' and 'bizarre'.
"Mr Katju as Chairperson of the Press Council of India holds a statutory position, yet he is seemingly floating around the country like a vagabond and giving unsolicited bizarre opinions," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said. He accused Katju of being biased and demanded his resignation.
"Katju prefers slurring opposition ruled governments whether it is Mamata Banerjee ruled West Bengal, the JDU-BJP ruled government in Bihar or Narendra Modi government in Gujarat," Rudy said.
The latest salvo was fired even as the BJP and the Congress have been engaged in a war of words over Justice Katju. Congress hit back at Jaitley for demanding Justice Katju's resignation over his remarks on Gujarat and Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh defended Katju saying the latter cannot be accused of being partisan. "I am very surprised to read totally unnecessary and outlandish statement of Arun Jaitley against Justice Markandey Katju. Justice Katju can't be criticised for favoring any one. On number of occasions his views have been critical of the present Government in Delhi and Congress led State Governments," Digvijaya Singh said.
"What he has stated in his article on development in Gujarat are based on facts from authoritative sources in the public domain. When a person runs out of argument he seeks refuge in abuse," Digvijaya added.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi also attacked the BJP for its criticism of Justice Katju, saying, "Anybody who criticise Modi becomes a Congressman. Many political, not political people, activists criticised Modi in the past, so then they should all be Congressmen? This is extremely regrettable."
Rudy, however, maintained that Jaitley had made an apt statement that Katju was carrying the "brief of the Congress party" and asked him to resign. "Mr Modi has also supported Jaitley's statement that Katju should quit," Rudi said.
Justice Katju had, in an opinion piece in a national daily, criticised Modi and his policies. Katju had noted in the article that "there is still a mystery of what happened in Godhra". He had also said that he found it hard to believe "that Modi had no hand in 2002," referring to the post-Godhra riots.
Jaitley, in response to the article written by Katju on Modi, had said that Katju had "failed every test on which a judge - whether sitting or retired - could be judged". Jaitley had said that the choice of Katju's subjects and targets was motivated by his political preferences.
He also made a demand for Katju's resignation in a signed article. Jaitley said the article read more like a personal tirade and that his attacks on non-Congress governments seemed more in the nature of thanks-giving to those who provided him with a post retirement job.
"Should not a former judge who currently occupies a quasi judicial office as Chairman of the Press Council of India, either quit before actively participating in politics or be sacked. Retired judges must remember that the rental for occupying a Lutyen's bungalow post retirement has to be political neutrality, not political participation," said Jaitley.
(With additional information from PTI)