Arvind Kejriwal's apology to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley may have spared him further prosecution in the defamation case but it could cost him the respect of his followers and AAP karyakartas, as per estranged AAP leader Kumar Vishwas.
Taking a strong stance on the matter, Vishwas, whose relationship with Kejriwal has soured, has spoken about how a political leader's words echo to the very last karyakarta of the party. Citing Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi as examples, Vishwas said a neta should think before he speaks.
'Whenever he says, some person is corrupt, we also echo it. There are thousands of such cases on karyakartas. It is shameful and disgusting that without thinking about them, based on your own interest and convenience, to avoid four days of jail or keep your post, you'll do something shameful like this.'
He went on to add, 'In Chhattisgarh or Haryana if you now go and say Raman Singh or Khattar are corrupt, then tomorrow, why will your karyakartyas stand by you? They'll think today you've said 'Khattar is corrupt', tomorrow you'll go say 'sorry'.'
Earlier on Monday, Kejriwal had issued his fourth and most high-profile apology of the last few weeks via a letter to the Union Finance Minister. Kejriwal and other AAP leaders had made allegations regarding financial irregularities at the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) while Jaitley was its president between 2000 and 2013. Following this, Jaitley had filed a Rs 10 crore defamation case on Kejriwal.
Kejriwal and the others pleaded not guilty at the time and sought a trial in the case. Kejriwal was represented by veteran lawyer Ram Jethmalani who cross-examined Jaitley in court. Jaitley, however, took exception to certain words used by Jethmalani about him, which Jethmalani allegedly claimed he had done on the instruction of Kejriwal. Following this, Jaitley sought "aggravated damages" and filed another Rs 10 crore defamation case.
Kejriwal refuted Jethmalani's claim that he had sanctioned the use of the objectionable words. The latter then quit as Kejriwal's counsel. In Monday's apology letter, the Delhi chief minister reiterated that he hadn't instructed Jethmalani to use the "disparaging and malicious statements".
Shortly after Kejriwal wrote his letter, Arun Jaitley accepted the apology and filed an application in the Delhi High Court saying he doesn't wish to prosecute in the case.
Kejriwal had earlier apologised to former Punjab minister and SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal.
Dear Shri Arun Jaitley Ji,
I had made certain statements about you in December 2015 and thereafter in connection with your tenure as the President of the Delhi and District Cricket Association. These allegations also form part of the subject matter of proceedings currently pending adjudication before the Honourable Delhi High Court and Ld. CMM, Patiala House Court, New Delhi.
These allegations were made by me were based on information and papers furnished to me by certain individuals who represented to have first-hand insight into the affairs of DDCA. However, I have recently discovered that the information and the imputations contained therein are unfounded and unwarranted and I was clearly misinformed into making these allegations.
Therefore, I unequivocally withdraw all the allegations made by me in question whether made in print, electronic or social media against you. I offer my sincere apology to you and your family members for any harm caused to your reputation as a consequence of my allegations.
With respect to the subject matter of civil suit CS(OS) 236 of 2017 currently pending adjudication before the Honourable Delhi High Court, I categorically state that the disparaging and malicious statements made by Mr Ram Jethmalani, the senior advocate representing me, were without my knowledge and/or instruction. I reaffirm what I have already stated earlier that I don't approve of these disparaging and malicious statements made by Mr Ram Jethmalani.
Though we belong to two different political parties, I believe that we should end the unsavoury litigations between us and serve the people of our country to the best of our abilities.
And here are all the other letters: