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‘Sick mindset’, lawsuit threat: Nothing off-limits as MPs Chaturvedi & Tewari battle over Tejpal

The row between Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi & Congress’ Manish Tewari started after the latter sought to plug a ‘new book’ by Tarun Tejpal. Both parties are coalition allies.

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New Delhi: Two MPs of alliance partners Congress and Shiv Sena slugged it out on Twitter Friday over former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal, who was acquitted this May of sexual assault charges.

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, a former Congress leader, and Congress MP Manish Tewari got into a war of words after the latter sought to plug a “new book” by Tejpal.

In his tweet, Tewari referred to Tejpal as “my college senior the much maligned, hugely politically persecuted & now honourably exonerated”.

Chaturvedi immediately hit back. Without either retweeting Tewari or naming him, she quoted parts of his tweet to say the rubbishing of “a woman’s sexual assault by this cosy club, smacks of their sick mindset”. 

She further said Tejpal’s acquittal has been challenged, so “the celebration of exoneration could hold”. Chaturvedi commended the “young lady” who filed the case against Tejpal for having the “courage to take such powerful clique head on”.

A war of words ensued between the two MPs, which included Tewari warning Chaturvedi  against crossing “the line of libel and defamation”, saying he would be “anguished to take a fellow MP & former colleague to court”.

In 2013, Tejpal was accused by a junior colleague of sexually assaulting her at a Tehelka event in Goa. In May this year, a sessions court in Goa acquitted Tejpal, but the Goa government subsequently filed an appeal in the High Court of Bombay at Goa. 

War of words

Reacting to Chaturvedi’s criticism, Tewari, a lawyer, said he knew how to read a judgment and respect it, “unlike you”. If there was “a problem”, “say what you have too in the High Court of Mumbai & Goa (sic)”. 

Chaturvedi said reading the judgement did not put Tewari on a higher moral ground, adding that she had the “right to opinion” as much as he had a right to “pat the back of an alleged rapist”. 

That is when Tewari brought up “libel and defamation”.

The duo then then got into the intricacies of libel and defamation. When Chaturvedi said she had not named Tewari, he replied a mere implication was enough. 

Chaturvedi made one final tweet before saying she refused to engage any further. 

“Ignorance of law is better than ignorance of morality. For the former one can have lawyers, the latter unfortunately can’t be taught, is ingrained.”

Tewari was the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting and said at the time that the law should take its own course. 

“The alleged incident is unfortunate. There is a legal process that is playing itself out. It should be allowed to reach a logical conclusion. It is incumbent upon all concerned to cooperate with legal processes and procedures,” Tewari is reported to have said.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

Also Read: Victim’s evasive answers, lack of medical evidence — why Goa court acquitted Tarun Tejpal


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