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Updated: February 18, 2013 15:33 IST

Cong, BJP spar over Katju

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Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju. File photo
The Hindu
Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju. File photo

Sparring between BJP and Congress on Monday intensified over Markandey Katju’s controversial remarks against Narendra Modi and subsequently Arun Jaitley, as the opposition party demanded dismissal of the Press Council chairman.

Rejecting the BJP’s demand, AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh jumped to Mr. Katju’s defence, saying he had always been impartial and wondered whether Mr. Jaitley was reacting in this manner because he “owed” his Rajya Sabha seat to Gujarat Chief Minister Modi.

Upping the ante against the PCI chief, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha accused Mr. Katju of “crossing the red lines repeatedly” and not using the language befitting a former judge.

“Katju has been crossing the red lines repeatedly through his various press statements. What kind of judge Katju was I don’t know but I am convinced he does not deserve to be the chairman of an important body like the Press Council of India.

“He should be dismissed immediately. There is no point in asking for his resignation. Secondly, he has no business interfering in politics. Press Council chairman is not going to determine who is going to be the Prime Minister of this country,” Mr. Sinha said.

Mr. Katju and Mr. Jaitley had on Sunday engaged in a spat over the former’s article in newspaper which criticised Mr. Modi.

“This is not the part of his jurisdiction. What he has done is that he has confused his personal opinion, with that of the PCI chairman, therefore he does not deserve to hold the office of the PCI chairman,” Sinha said wondering “what does he mean by writing the most objectionable article against Narendra Modi.”

Digvijay Singh, however, dismissed Mr. Jaitley’s stringent criticism of Mr. Katju asking, “Is it because he owes his Rajya Sabha seat to Mr Narendra Modi, that Mr Arun Jaitley feels that he should defend Mr Narendra Modi? I think Mr Arun Jaitley should not comment like this, it is unbecoming of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha.”

Slamming Mr. Jaitley for his “venomous” attack on the PCI chairman, Digvijay Singh said that Katju had always been impartial and at the same time very sensitive to the people’s cause.

“Why did Mr Arun Jaitley keep quiet when he brought out the issues against the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, against the Chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, against the Home ministry in the arrest of Iftekhar Gilani.

“When he sort of publicly rebutted the police in the case of gangrape in Delhi. He kept quiet on those occasions,” the Congress leader added.

Mr. Digvijay was asked if the incident reflected BJP’s reluctance to take criticism to which he said that “the fact is that they are a fascist ideology who can’t take criticism ....who believe in either you are my way or the highway.”

Yashwant Sinha, however said that he found Mr. Katju using words like “nonsense” and “rubbish” against Mr. Jaitley, something unbecoming of a judge.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi trashed Mr. Jaitley’s comment that Mr. Katju was “more Congress than Congress” questioning whether everybody who has criticised Mr. 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,” Mr. Singhvi said.

Lok Janashakti Party also backed Katju saying that be it Gujarat or Bihar, NDA governments are “playing the game of statistics and manipulation” in the name of development and criticised Jaitley for his “unjustified” anger.

“Jaitley should talk after due consideration. Katju speaks on the basis of facts. BJP is attacking PCI Chairman unnecessarily. In similar manner, the NDA government in Bihar has gagged the media.... We support Katju on whatever he has said over the situation in Gujarat now and Bihar in past,” party chief Ram Vilas Paswan said.

A three-member team constituted by Mr. Katju over the media situation in Bihar last year had said that the media in Nitish Kumar-ruled Bihar is facing some sort of censorship and not being able to function freely. Mr. Katju has invited sharp criticism from some quarters even then.

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, Mr. Alvi said.

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The dignified way with which Arun Jaitley has pointed out the"impropriety" of the Chairman of PCI, stands out. Neutrality and
apoliitical stands are missed in this debate. Very sorry state of
affairs when Media also sheds its cloak of impartiality.

from:  G. Narayanaswamy
Posted on: Feb 19, 2013 at 09:24 IST

Hon'ble Katju is not supposed to give his comments on politicians by name as he will always be considered as per his past stature. His comments on Modi are biased. A former judge need not to comment in such a manner. The tone and attitude used by former CJI are nowhere near impartiality. He knows well about affect of his comments and also how it can be used by political rivals of Mr. Modi. If a judge can loose his control in such a manner then what to talk about layman. Vulnerability of his comments are at top brass of BJP. If he criticises any state government without naming it is ok. But what if otherwise. What are hidden intentions also need to be understood and taken into account. There is very thin line between truth and lie. Comments on any personality should be in it's totality.

from:  atul mishra
Posted on: Feb 18, 2013 at 16:55 IST

As per Justice katju: The so-called "educated" youth of india have been swayed by Mr. Modi's false propaganda. It also appears that Mr. Katju has no belief in the Judicial system of country because he said : " i would not like to comment on our judiciary". Mr. Katju's comments are testimony to his narrow interpretation of events based on weak assumptions. It is agreed that one has the right to express his views as guaranteed under Article 19(1) of the constitution, but it does not mean right to defame anyone based on false premise and biased opinions and airing in any newspaper. Even the courts have not passed any judgement on Mr. Modi, then how can Mr. Katju openly declare his belief. Stating his differences with Gujrati businessman seems quite childish and immature act which is deep rooted in his subconcious mind.

from:  Manoj Yadav
Posted on: Feb 18, 2013 at 16:49 IST

if mr Katju is so concerned about the country & society , why dont he
raise more important issues like problems prevailing in education
sector,acute corruption in government schemes,apathy among public for
gender issues,etc. why does he selectively points out minute details
describing failure of Narendera modi & other states like Bihar & West
Bengal which r ruled by non congress parties? is it not the clear case
of biased & politically motivated opinion? if he want to talk about
riots then how can he miss 1984 genocide against Sikhs?

from:  Rajender Prasad
Posted on: Feb 18, 2013 at 16:36 IST

The ex-Justice like everyone else in this country is entitled to hold his views on all topics
under the sun. The media willing, he can air them and get in to a massive public debate as
well. Then, as Chairman of Press Council of India, it does strike one the accommodation of
the print media and to be only too willing to freely give space to him is probably a conflict of
interest. Well in India presently that violation is probably not even a minor offence. But, it is
jarring to persons like me who had seen better standards before.

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Feb 18, 2013 at 16:05 IST

Justice Katju is known for his impartiality and neutrality. He had
even criticised Congress-led government on many issues. why, BJP
government silent then and asking him to quit now when BJP itself was
targeted. When persons like Modi is projected for PM, certainly he
has his views to reconsider the choice because the Modi is not
secular where as our constitution is 'secular'. Why leaders of
opposition in India behave and speak baseless;one wants 10 heads in
retaliation and another wants PCI chairman to quit. Justice Katju was
stressing development does not mean favouring business tycoons but
rather enhancing lives of people. He has data and information to
prove that almost half of the children population in so-called
'developed' state are malnourished.
By the way, Mr.Jaitley does not tell Katju was wrong but comments as
more than congress. It shows, Katju's remarks were not wrong.

Leave communal politics; cut across political lines and work for the
greater good for entire nation.

from:  K Manoharsinghnaik
Posted on: Feb 18, 2013 at 16:02 IST

He is the same man..who said 90% of indians are fools..The kind of
maturity is expected from him...The article written is totally
boiased...and i am very agreee with jaitely saying He is More congress
than congress it self..He is paying dues by promoting corrupts in
power..Shame on him...he should respect his post..!

from:  Sanktha
Posted on: Feb 18, 2013 at 15:47 IST

Judges are known to be very careful in what they say and write. Without holding a torch for BJP, one can't help feeling that Justic Katju has crossed his limits !

from:  V. VEDAGIRI
Posted on: Feb 18, 2013 at 15:38 IST

Being a retired Supreme Court judge he has not business to link Modi with Godra killing when the court had already sentenced the accused. Moreover will the Congress accept and defend such statements from Chairman UPSC, or members of the election Commission? The remarks made by him have no connection with his work as Chairman Press Council

from:  ramu
Posted on: Feb 18, 2013 at 15:31 IST

i have been reading Mr Katju's comments after he retired. Something is
definitely wrong in my view as his comments are so acerbic and smells of
some personal agenda. though i myself could be wrong too.

from:  manish
Posted on: Feb 18, 2013 at 15:28 IST

In his article Mr. Katju has only re-stated some of the the basic
principles of the Indian constitution and criticized a Chief Minister
who has failed to rule according to those principles. The said Chief
Minister's behaviour is obviously tantamount to violation of these
principles and any Indian citizen is well within his rights to publicly
or privately criticize it. And Mr. Katju, being a former Supreme Court
Judge is pr-eminently suited to do offer such a criticism.

from:  Baby
Posted on: Feb 18, 2013 at 15:25 IST

Commenting on the present Chairman of the Press Council of India Justice (retired) Markandey Katju’s attack on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has highlighted a very grave and serious issue of corruption in the Judiciary. His observation that “in some cases the pre-retirement judicial conduct of a judge was influenced by the desire to get a post-retirement assignment” truly reflects adversely on the integrity of judges at higher levels. This is sufficient enough to lower people’s trust in the most important organ of our democratic system. It is another fact that corruption is rampant in all other spheres of our public life including legislature and executive, in addition to judiciary. Moreover, Jaitley cannot be considered the first person to raise the problem. Growth of corruption in our country has been described in various forums by different sections of people. Jaitley’s claim only adds to the immediate necessity to arrest the trend and eradicate the menace. Unfortunately, Justice Katju justifies the present situation and his own position in PCI by only saying that “under the National Democratic Alliance government, dozens of appointments of retired supreme court judges were made”, ignoring the true concerns of ordinary citizens. In fact, the very same mindset ruled him in his personal attack on Modi. He himself has stated that ‘it is not only BJP and RSS, but a large section of the Indian educated class is carried away by Modi’s propaganda. His seemingly fictitious story of his talk with a Gujarat businessman, his statistics on progress of the State from undeclared sources and his own dis-belief on the real concerns of the people all show his incapacity to counter the Modi-propaganda. At this juncture, it does not look meaningful to ask him to quit the government-offered job. This is also not to acquit Jaitley or BJP or other political leaders or parties from whatever roles they have been playing in creating the present situation.

from:  P. R. V. Raja
Posted on: Feb 18, 2013 at 15:19 IST
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