Back after a six-month sabbatical taken to complete the 3,100-km ‘Narmada Parikrama’, Digvijaya has defended the motion citing an ‘unprecedented threat to judiciary’.
New Delhi: The Congress party’s decision to move an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra was not taken off the cuff and followed “serious discussions and deliberations”, party general secretary Digvijaya Singh has said.
The Rajya Sabha member and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister was in conversation with ThePrint Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta and Editor (Politics) D.K. Singh at ‘Off the Cuff’, Monday evening, hours after Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu rejected the motion.
The OTC was Singh’s first public event since he returned from a six-month sabbatical during which he undertook the 3,100-km ‘Narmada Parikrama’ yatra with wife Amrita Rai.
Since he was away when the signatures were collected, Singh wasn’t one of the 64 MPs who signed the opposition’s impeachment petition. But he supports it wholeheartedly, he said.
“It’s a party decision and I am with the party. Besides, if you see our chargesheet, the kind of allegations we have made against the CJI, I think the CJI needs to answer those questions,” he added. “After all, independent judiciary is the hallmark of our Constitution.”
“For the first time in the history of independent India four senior sitting judges of the apex court have raised questions publicly on the functioning of the CJI. Isn’t it a serious matter?” he said.
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Asked whether the party should have called a meeting of the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest decision-making body, to discuss the impeachment motion before initiating it, Singh said the body currently didn’t exist and needed to be constituted.
“Nevertheless, the senior lawyers in the party, such as Kapil Sibal, P. Chidambaram, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Vivek Tankha have done the ground work for the motion,” he added.
The motion, moved as a bid to “preserve the judiciary’s independence”, has led to allegations of hypocrisy against the Congress in light of its clampdown on the judiciary during the Emergency. However, Singh said it would be wrong to draw a parallel between then and now.
“The clampdown was done during the Emergency, in a different situation, for which Mrs Indira Gandhi later apologised,” he said. “But today, there is no such situation.”
A yatra for introspection
Singh said the Narmada parikrama, which he had wanted to do since around 1998, gave him a chance to introspect. It was a spiritual quest that also allowed him to connect with old acquaintances.
That 20-year-old dream realised, the veteran politician is now set for another yatra, this one a political campaign to strengthen the Congress’ grassroots outreach ahead of this year’s assembly elections in his home state of Madhya Pradesh.
“I have asked (the party brass’) permission to undertake a yatra across the state with some senior state leaders who are not willing to contest elections or take any post,” he said. “I will try to bring all the leaders and workers together, shunning their differences, in order to ensure a Congress government after the upcoming elections.”
Madhya Pradesh, which has voted the BJP to office in three successive elections, is due to go to the polls towards the end of the year.
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