Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, faced with multiple defamation lawsuits in courts, has chosen to issue apologies to the leaders concerned in what is being seen as a bid to tide over the crisis. First, he said sorry to ex-Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia. Next, he went on to seek apology from Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s son Amit Sibal and Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari yesterday.
However, the move has drawn both positive and negative responses from opposition parties as well as from within the Aam Admi Party (AAP). Leaders have resigned but top party leader and Kejriwal’s Deputy in Delhi cabinet Manish Sisodia has strongly backed the AAP convener citing that apologies will save time to fight for people’s rights, which would otherwise be wasted in courts.
Here is how events unfolded following Arvind Kejriwal’s apology:
Manish Sisodia backs CM Kejriwal: In spite of sharp jibes and criticism from within the party and outside, CM Kejriwal’s apologies got the backing of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. Sisodia said AAP was least interested in indulging in ego tussles and did not want to waste time in fighting court cases.
AAP a divided house: Kejriwal’s apology to Majithia for accusing the former Punjab Chief Minister of being involved in a drug racket sparked stiff protests from the AAP’s Punjab unit. Subsequently, Aam Admi Party MP and party’s Punjab Chief Bhagwant Mann quit in protest against Kejriwal’s move. It has been learnt that another top leader in Punjab Aman Arora also resigned. Now, former AAP leader Anjali Damania has also attacked Kejriwal, asking him why he published a list of 20 “corrupt politicians” if he wanted to “back off meekly”.
Apology to Nitin Gadkari: On Monday, CM Kejriwal tendered a written apology to Gadkari expressing regret for remarks he made against the Union Minister. The Union Minister had prompted the minister to file a defamation suit against the AAP Chief. The Chief Minister had earlier refused to apologise to the BJP leader. Videos of his refusal to apologise have been doing rounds on social media since his apology.
Relief in Sibal case: In a major relief, Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia were yesterday acquitted by a city court as both of them had tendered an apology to Sibal. It has been learnt that Sibal’s son Amit Sibal had filed a complaint in 2013, alleging that Kejriwal, Sisodia, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Shazia Ilmi, who was then an AAP member, had targeted him and his father over the Vodafone tax revision case.
Arun Jaitley-Arvind Kejriwal defamation case: The Delhi CM is also facing the much discussed defamation case filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The hearing on the matter is underway. A hearing is likely to be held in Delhi High Court on April 3.
Why did Kejriwal apologise: Besides these three cases, CM Kejriwal is facing defamation cases from BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri, Sheila Dikshit’s former political secretary Pawan Khera, BJP youth leader Ankit Bhardwaj, BJP MLA Vijender Gupta, activist Neeraj Saxena, Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Chandra. According to reports, Kejriwal is faced with 33 defamaton cases in 22 states. Of these, three cases have now been settled. It will be interesting to see if Kejriwal’s apology will be enough to settle remaining cases.
BJP flays Kejriwal: BJP’s Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari said that the anarchic character of NGO politics practised by Arvind Kejriwal and his compatriots stands exposed before the people of the country. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister said Shivraj Singh Chouhan has sarcastically asked his Delhi counterpart to come up with a list and apology letter “To whomsoever, it may concern”.
“Arvind ‘sorry’ Kejriwal”: Congress had a suggestion for CM Kejriwal. Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjwala said that “there is a sorry Chief Minister in the country and the AAP convener should change his name to Arvind Sorry Kejriwal.”