Arun Jaitley seems perturbed that a respected person of the stature of Markandey Katju has found loopholes in the rosy picture of Gujarat development, weaved by the BJP and Narendra Modi. Instead of producing documentary evidence to demolish Justice Katju’s opinions, Mr. Jaitley has resorted to mudslinging.
I respect and admire Justice Katju for his rational and clear cut opinions. What he says or writes is based on facts. Mr. Jaitley has no right to ask him to step down as Press Council Chairman. It would indeed be ideal for Mr. Jaitley to take political sanyas.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Jaitley has made harsh and unpleasant statements against Justice Katju, and called him more Congress than Congress. If the BJP can target a renowned person like the PCI chairman, one can imagine what it can do to suppress the voice of an ordinary person. Justice Katju has exposed the true face of Mr. Modi and the BJP must accept the truth. The Gujarat riots happened due to the government’s failure. Prime Minister Vajpayee himself advised Mr. Modi on ‘Raj Dharma.’
The BJP is presenting a larger-than-life picture of Mr. Modi and harping on Gujarat’s development. But development at the cost of inclusive growth cannot be encouraged in a democracy. It cannot undo the losses of the 2002 riot victims.
Our society has become so intolerant that a mere statement of facts is seen as bias. Those criticising Justice Katju as being biased are perhaps scared that their prime ministerial candidate’s position will be weakened.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Jaitley has demanded Justice Katju’s resignation for speaking the truth. Is it Mr. Jaitley’s case that milk and honey are flowing in Gujarat and there is no poverty there? Is Gujarat the only State which has made strides in development? How can Mr. Jaitley accuse Justice Katju of selective criticism when even the RSS and the BJP leaders are up against Mr. Modi?
Mr. Jaitley is right in saying that Justice Katju should not indulge in political activity while occupying a quasi- judicial office. The instances cited by Justice Katju in his defence demanded his response as PCI chairman. His post did not demand that he go public against a politician.
Justice Katju’s comments on Mr. Jaitley and his comments on Mr. Modi in his article in The Hindu are the most uncalled for. If he is keen on expressing his views on political matters, he should resign as PCI chairman and join politics.
While Justice Katju may be right in his assessment of Mr. Modi, the fact remains that three elections have gone by in Gujarat since the 2002 pogrom. The people of the State had three opportunities to show Mr. Modi the door. But they chose to remain with Mr. Modi. Surely, that must signify something?
Many sections of the media are upset that European countries have showed a willingness to do business with Mr. Modi. They are naïve in believing that countries are governed by emotive idealism, not self-interest. All the criticism heaped on Mr. Modi applies to Rajiv Gandhi as well. Thousands of Sikhs were massacred by his partymen in 1984. But none of the “self righteous” countries refused him a visa. It happened to Mr. Modi because he was just a leader of a State. With the prospects of his dominating the national scene brightening, the western countries are pragmatic and would like to let the ‘bygones be bygones’ and the law take its course.
There is no denying that Justice Katju’s remarks on Mr. Modi amount to dissuading the electorate from voting for him in the next election. At the same time, it is disgusting to note that even tall political leaders are not able to take criticism in their stride. Criticisms can be ignored or responded to properly, without demanding the head of the critic. Saying Justice Katju is soft on those who provided him with a post-retirement job is certainly not in good taste.