Kapil Sibal again finds a way to embarrass Rahul Gandhi, appears for Anil Ambani in court

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Kapil Sibal again finds a way to embarrass Rahul Gandhi, appears for Anil Ambani in court
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal addresses a press conference at AICC headquarters Manvender Vashist/PTI

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New Delhi: For a good part of the last week, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been keeping busy with his continuous attacks on industrialist Anil Ambani over the Rafale deal. On Tuesday, however, a senior leader of his party appeared for Ambani before the Supreme Court in a case.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared before the top court, alongside Reliance Communications Ltd (R-Com) chairman Ambani, in a contempt case by telecom firm Ericsson India over R-Com’s failure to pay outstanding dues of about Rs 550 crore.

“They are two difference cases,” Sibal told ThePrint.

“I have tweeted my stance on Rafale, which is a clear-cut case of corruption. I appeared on behalf of the company, as far as SC case is concerned. The two issues should not be mixed.”

On Tuesday, Sibal tweeted about the latest development in the Rafale issue after a news report claimed that in March 2015, Ambani visited then French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s office in Paris and held a meeting with his advisors. This, the report said, came just a fortnight before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France.

Earlier, Congress president Rahul Gandhi slammed the Modi government over the Rafale deal and accused the prime minister of putting national security at risk.

Also read:Kapil Sibal has made a habit of embarrassing the Congress

Sibal gaffes

This isn’t the first instance of Sibal putting his party in an uncomfortable spot.

Amid campaigning for the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections, Sibal had urged the Supreme Court to defer the hearing in the Ayodhya title suit until after 2019 Lok Sabha elections as the verdict could have a bearing on the polls.

The Congress was left distancing itself from Sibal, but Modi pounced on his remarks to make the Ram temple an election issue.

Even recently, Modi accused the Congress of delaying the resolution of the Ram temple issue, indicating that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would continue to use Sibal’s stand in court to counter charges of the NDA government’s inaction on the temple.

In November last year, even as Gandhi kept hitting out at Modi for “favouring” Ambani in the Rafale deal, Sibal managed to blunt his own party’s attack by appearing for the industrialist in a case related to selling assets of his company to his older brother Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.

As the BJP criticised this, Congress maintained that Sibal had represented Ambani in his professional capacity.

In April 2018, Sibal had also spearheaded the move to impeach then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. However, Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu rejected the motion for impeachment helmed by Sibal and signed by 65 MPs on the grounds that they were mere allegations.

Sibal then favoured a petition moved in the Supreme Court by two Congress MPs against Naidu’s ruling. However, within a month, he withdrew the petition.

Also read: Kapil Sibal’s three strikes bring political embarrassment for Congress

UPA-era issues

In 2011, when the UPA was in power and Sibal was telecom minister, he had come up with the “zero loss theory” to rebut the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report estimating the loss to the exchequer in the allocation of the 2G spectrum at Rs 1.76 lakh crore.

The statement had added fuel to the raging 2G scam fire.

To be sure, Sibal was seen to be vindicated in 2017 when a special court acquitted all the accused.

For ThePrint’s smart analysis of how the rest of the media is doing its job, no holds barred, go to PluggedIn.

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