Katju, Jaitley in war of words over Modi, ask each other to quit



New Delhi: BJP leader Arun Jaitley and PCI Chairman Markandeya Katju were on Sunday locked in a bitter war of words over the latter's article critical of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with the two asking each other to resign.

Jaitley dubbed Katju as "more Congress than the Congress" and said his attacks on non-Congress governments whether in West Bengal, Bihar or Gujarat seem more in the nature of "thanks-giving" to those who provided him with a post- retirement job." He demanded that Katju resign from his post.

The Press Council of India Chief hit back at Jaitley accusing him of twisting facts and asked him to quit politics.

Modi also waded into the row accusing Katju of looking at Gujarat with a "jaundiced eye" and said Jaitley's counter to the former Supreme Court judge was "insightful" in demolishing "lies" spread about Gujarat. Modi's response came on Twitter.

Jaitley, in a statement, said Katju's article in a newspaper against Modi read more like a personal tirade and wondered whether he was trying to hold a brief for those who have been convicted in the 2002 Godhra train burning incident.

Katju had said that "there is still a mystery of what happened in Godhra" and he found it hard to believe "that Modi had no hand in 2002", referring to the Gujarat riots.

Referring to Katju's criticism of Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Jaitley said, "His attacks on non-Congress governments whether in West Bengal, Bihar or Gujarat seem more in the nature of thanks-giving to those who provided him with a post retirement job."

He took exception to Katju's remarks that the people of the country should not make the same mistake made by the Germans in 1933.

"I concede to Justice Katju the right to hold his political views, but can the occupant of a job whose functioning is quasi-judicial openly participate in political activity. His appeal is political. He appears to be more Congress than the Congress party," Jaitley said, adding he should "either quit before actively participating in politics or be sacked."

Katju, in turn, accused Jaitley of twisting facts and said he had written "very strong" letters to Congress-ruled Maharashtra's Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan over the arrest of two girls for a Facebook post after the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.

BJP chief spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said Katju's comments on Modi and Nitish were absolutely political and raised many questions.

PTI