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Cong, BJP spar over Katju

Congress leader Digvijay Singh lashed out at BJP’s Arun Jaitley here on Monday for attacking Press Council chairman Markandey Katju over his remarks on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Digvijay said Jaitley had no problem when Katju spoke against Congress leader Virbhadra Singh, against the home ministry, the detention of Kashmiri journalist Iftikhar Gilani or in the gang rape case when he publicly rebuked Delhi Police.

‘He kept quiet on those occasions,’  Digvijay Singh told reporters.

‘He has given this statement just because Justice Katju has raised the developmental issues of Gujarat,' the Congress leader said and asked, ‘Is it because he (Jaitley) owes his Rajya Sabha seat to Narendra Modi that he thinks he should defend Narendra Modi?’ ‘Arun Jaitley should not comment like this. It is unbecoming of leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha,’ he added.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi trashed Jaitley’s comment that Katju was ‘more Congress than Congress’ questioning whether everybody who has criticised Modi was a Congress plant. ‘I am astonished at the outburst (of Jaitley). Over the last eleven years, people of all colours, parties, persuasions and views have at different times criticised and even condemned Modi. Does it mean all of them are Congressmen? Anybody who criticised Modi becomes a Congress plant. In that case, thousands of people of the country – unconnected with politics, connected with politics, whosoever has done so must be treated as a Congress member,’ said Singhvi.

Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said whatever observations Justice Katju had made were his own observations.

He is working as an independent person as chairman of the Press Council of India and he is a man of reputation. The BJP is in the habit of making baseless allegations, Alvi said.

Alvi’s colleague Renuka Chowdhury said that BJP is saying it because of their shortcomings and that BJP keeps making such wild allegations.

Jaitley had on Sunday accused the Press Council chairman of partiality to the Congress and demanded his resignation, drawing a strong retort from the former Supreme Court justice who said Jaitley was distorting facts and asked him to quit politics.

Jaitley, who is leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, accused Katju of attacking non-Congress governments in Bihar, Gujarat and West Bengal on the basis of 'his political preferences.’

In an article on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) website, Jaitley said Katju’s attacks ‘seem more in the nature of thanks-giving to those who provided him with a post-retirement job.’ He said Katju had over the past week released a draft report on behalf of the Press Council of India (PCI) alleging that the media in Bihar was not independent. He followed it up with an article in an English daily attacking the Gujarat government and chief minister Narendra Modi.

Countering Jaitley’s argument of targeting non-Congress chief ministers, Katju said he had written to Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan in November last year condemning the arrest of two girls from the state’s Palghar town for criticising on Facebook the shutdown following Bal Thackeray’s death.


STOP ACTING AS CONGRESS AGENT: JD(U) TO KATJU

Hitting out at Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju for alleging that Bihar government is trying to ‘arm-twist’ the press, the ruling JD(U) onMonday said he should stop acting as a Congress agent.

‘He (Katju) should uphold the decency of a high constitutional post like that of PCI Chairman and stop behaving like a Congress agent,’ senior JD(U) leader Sanjay Jha said.

Jha, a close confidant of chief minister Nitish Kumar, said if Katju was not convinced of transformation in Bihar under NDA rule, he should go and have dialogue with nobel laureates like the Dalai Lama, Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz who have appreciated the turnaround in the state.

A PCI team constituted by Katju had accused the Nitish Kumar government of ‘arm-twisting’ the press.
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