Why Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is on an apology spree, tendering amende honourable to many of those who slapped defamation cases on him
There’s a joke going viral on social media: the new spelling of apology is ‘AAP-OLOGY’ – the pun is at the expense of Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal. His apologee spree continues with his ‘sorry’ to finance minister Arun Jaitley, ending the criminal defamation case against the minister. In the recent past, Kejriwal has apologised to the likes of Bikram Singh Majithia, Kapil Sibal and Nitin Gadkari — his most friendly minister in the Union cabinet.
All apologies were put forth to end the defamation cases against him. It was like paying a karmic debt. This caused him embarrassment and was a pet topic of ridicule on the popular media and social media alike.
Kejriwal has offended people across the political spectrum, indiscriminately. As a result, there are about 30 defamation cases against the CM pending in various courts of the country.
There’s no shame in apologising, if one is wrong. But in many cases, Kejriwal seems to be certain that he’s not wrong. The fact is, perhaps, that he can’t prove he’s right. For it requires a lot of effort and legal entanglements that cost a fortune, to be able to substantiate what he said with his quintessential brashness that’s rare in public life. As per AAP insiders, those close to the chief minister, defamation cases had become a big source of headache, drain to resources and time. It’s inexpedient at this stage of his party and his own career to fight legal battles, instead of strengthening the party and preparing to fight elections.
Kejriwal and AAP was also finding it difficult to foot the bills for the lawyers. Many of the leading lawyers were reluctant to appear for Kejriwal against some of the influential politicians he’s castigated in public, some of them have a big clout within the lawyer community. Also, Kejriwal’s experience with a senior lawyer of the repute of Ram Jehthmalani is best described by the word disastrous. While tendering an apology to Jaitley, Kejriwal clarified that he didn’t approve the ‘disparaging’ and ‘malicious’ statements made by Jethmalani while representing him and, therefore, weren’t made on his behalf.
There was a fair bit of an unrest in Punjab AAP, who saw as a betrayal Kejriwal’s apology to Bikram Singh Majithia, who he had alleged was involved in the drug trade. Kejriwal has explained to his party men one has to wisely choose one’s battles. In fact, as AAP insiders inform, the party hired a senior lawyer from Kolkata to represent Kejriwal in a defamation case. He did make appearances a few times for Kejriwal after he was flown in from Kolkata to Delhi, but later opted out, for he was under pressure from his peer group not to do so. The mood of the court was fairly evident in this matter, not much of cross-examination was allowed. Given these circumstances, Kejriwal decided to tender an apology.
As the popular saying goes, lose the battle to win the war.