Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's decision to launch a civil defamation suit against Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi CM) and a few of his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders is unlikely to go anywhere, given the fact that such suits seldom reach any definitive verdict of guilty or no guilty. However, it was probably the only option left for him given the wild allegations being levelled by Kejriwal of jaitley being involved in shady dealings in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA).
That the DDCA's accounts may not be absolutely kosher is more than probable, for cricket is a money spinner in this country and the chance that everything will be squeaky clean is low. However, Kejriwal's bonafides in the matter are suspect, given that he became voluble about DDCA's shenanigans only after the CBI raided his Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar for alleged corruption.
This has been Kejriwal's SOP. First fling mud in all directions and pretend everyone is corrupt and how the world needs him to rescue it from crooks. And then either forget about it or send someone on a wild goose chase over it. When the boot is on the other foot, and the allegations involve him or his party, claim its a conspiracy. In all this, there is now little doubt that Kejriwal is no different from any other Indian politician. The BJP took 20-and-odd years to seem like any another party; Kejriwal's descent into sameness was faster.
Having started his career by levelling allegations against all politicians, Kejriwal has changed little despite diminishing returns on this tactic. This time, too, Kejriwal first levelled the allegations and then decided to institute a probe by Gopal Subramanian into the DDCA charges. One wonders what is the sanctity of a probe ordered after the accusing party has gone public with his allegations and then uses a lawyer who has no love lost for the Modi government, having been blackballed from elevation to the Supreme Court, to probe the case.
This is typical Kejriwal. In 2012, around the time when AAP was in its formative stages, allegations of impropriety were levelled against three founding members - Prashant Bhushan (now turfed out of the party by Kejriwal), Anjali Damania and Mayank Gandhi. Kejriwal, full of righteousness, grandly announced a probe by three internal ombudsmen, but we never heard anything about the final report.
In the run-up to the Delhi elections, we saw a row over large unknown donations to AAP. Nothing ever came of the probe into that. At that time, Jaitley had asked in his blog: "If Kejriwal were still a Revenue Service officer and a case of such money conversion through sham companies resulting in donations to a political party had landed on his table, what he would have done?"
We know the answer: Kejriwal would be hyperactive if the allegations are against other parties or their leaders; if they point inwards, he will shout louder and point in other directions.
This is what has happened in the Arun Jaitley-DDCA case. Embarrassed by the raids on his Principal Secretary, he is now hitting out in the direction of Jaitley in the hope that some mud will stick.
Against the Kejriwal technique - shoot first and ask questions later - the only counter is often a defamation case.
Politicians usually resort to defamation cases against the media in order to prevent them from raising embarrassing questions about questionable conduct or deals. The defamation case is often intended to silence questioners.
But when politicians pretend they are prosecutors - as Kejriwal is doing - this weapon is probably the right one to use. Nitin Gadkari used it well when Kejriwal went ballistic against him with little real proof. Jaitley is possibly right to use the same technique to gag a congenital accuser.
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