New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress are now engaged in a war of words over Press Council Chairman Markandey Katju. The Congress has hit back at BJP leader Arun Jaitley for demanding Justice Katju's resignation over his remarks on Gujarat and Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh has 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."
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.
Jaitley also made a demand for Katju's resignation in a signed article after Katju wrote an opinion piece in a national daily in which he criticised Modi and his policies.
Jaitley said it 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. In his article Jaitley said, "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."