While the Delhi CM now claims that the case was not a private battle, reports say that he said the same himself earlier.
New Delhi: "Should I pay from my pocket?" Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday asked, breaking his silence on the controversy over his move to pay lawyer Ram Jethmalani from the public exchequer for defending him in a defamation case.
However, as per an NDTV report, the Delhi chief minister had earlier told a court that he was making the allegations against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his private capacity. This was in October last year, when Kejriwal was looking to get one of the two defamation cases against him dismissed.
Kejriwal made the remarks addressing a rally in north-east Delhi's Seemapuri constituency. He said the controversy was created to "weaken" the AAP government's fight against corruption.
"Who plays cricket here?" he asked pointing towards the crowd. "In Delhi there was massive corruption in cricket. You must have heard of DDCA. It was heavily corrupt. Youngsters used to come to me and complain that money is sought for selection."
"I initiated a probe into it. Then the BJP filed a case against me. We hired top lawyer Ram Jethmalani. They ask why should the government pay? Should I pay from my pocket? They want to weaken our fight against corruption," Kejriwal said.
Jethmalani has not been paid yet and the matter is pending with Lt Governor Anil Baijal. The bills totalled around Rs 3.4 crore.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who had directed the General Administration Department to clear the bills due to Jethmalani, said the issue has been raked up to divert the attention from the EVM controversy.
Sisodia, speaking to reporters outside his residence, said the defamation case against Kejriwal was filed as he had launched a probe into "corruption" prevalent in the Delhi and District Cricket Administration (DDCA).
"When they challenged something which was being probed by the government then the lawyers bill has to be paid by the government. It was not Arvind Kejriwal's personal case.
Sisodia also raised question over the timing of the issue being raked up.
"The case has been on for the last one and a half years. But why is it being talked about now? Because they have found themselves in a spot over the EVM controversy," he said.