"Should I pay from my pocket?" Arvind Kejriwal asked on Tuesday, 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.
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.
Jethmalani has not been paid yet and the matter is pending with Lt Governor Anil Baijal.
Read | Delhi or Kejriwal - who'll pay Rs 3cr defamation case bill? BJP calls it 'dacoity' of public money; Jethmalani says he'll do it free
The bills totalled around Rs 3.4 crore. 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.
Read | BJP dubs Delhi govt's move to clear defamation case bills as ‘dacoity and loot’
Meanwhile, 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.