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Politics or law?

Editorial |

Ostensibly their attack was directed at the Aam Aadmi Party, but in reality it was to P Chidambaram that the lesser lights of the Congress party put the embarrassment-laced question asked by the caption to this commentary.

For if Kejriwal & Co. had committed a “crime” in engaging the services of the former cabinet minister and Senior Counsel to present to the apex court the Delhi government’s case for greater authority than what the Lieutenant-Governor/home ministry concedes, surely Chidambaram too had sinned when accepting that brief. Along with the BJP description of political opponents as “termites”, the inability of Ajay Maken, Sandeep Dikshit, Sharmista Mukherjee etc to perceive the distinction between wearing a professional hat and a political one confirms the depths to which the “national debate” has now degenerated.

The claim by the local Congress that in seeking the legal services of Chidambaram the AAP had exonerated him from all the charges it levelled when he was a minister in the UPA government is ridiculous. Almost as silly as the condemnation to which Ram Jethmalani had been subjected when defending the alleged assassins of Indira Gandhi ~ that one of them was acquitted by the Supreme Court is a testament to the rule of law prevailing in the country.

Alas, that “nicety” goes above the heads of Maken & Co. The Delhi Congress continues to agonise over the deep wounds it had suffered at the hands of AAP, hence it is making an issue over Chidambaram.

Is the Trinamul a less hostile adversary ~ no fuss was created when Kapil Sibal recently represented the West Bengal government in an Aadhaar-related action in the apex court? Surely there is much merit to the AAP spokesman’s contention that Chidambaram had been selected because of “his experience as a lawyer and has nothing to do with politics”. The “nothing to do with politics” argument is one that does not find too many takers in an era when political action is being taken in the courts as much as the legislatures, and somehow the memory conjures up reminders of Indira Gandhi’s call for “committed” officials, judges etc.

It was in her regime that the contention “if you are not with us you are against are us” took root. This concept now finds powerful expression in the current era when allegations of being anti-national and charges of sedition are slapped against anyone who dares to “think differently”. Or they are advised to go to Pakistan.

With the nation now in virtually permanent election-mode politics dominates almost every move in public life. Sometimes the spin-off actually hinders “movement” ~ several would-be travellers have been missing their trains because the model code of conduct (in force because of upcoming polls in Himachal and Gujarat) prevents publication of the revised railway time-table.