Stung by the Bharatiya Janata Party's attack in the Tehelka case, Law Minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday hit back at the principal Opposition and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, accusing them of vilifying his name and said magazine's editor Tarun Tejpal was not related to him and he does not hold shares in the entity.
Hours after Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj tweeted that a "Union Cabinet Minister who is the founder and patron of Tehelka is shielding Tarun Tejpal," Sibal said leaders who are "tangentially talking about me should name me if they have the courage." Swaraj had not named anyone in the tweet.
The Congress leader also referred to a message in circulation in the social media, which said that Tejpal is the son of Sibal's sister and that the Union minister held 80 per cent shares in Tehelka. "There is a message going around in the social media which says that Tarun Tejpal is the son of a Punjab Congress committee member and an MLA. I don't know..."
"Then it says his mother is the real sister of Kapil Sibal. Now, I am sorry, I did not expect the RSS and the BJP to stoop to this level. They can attack me politically, but they should not bring my family into it," he told reporters in New Delhi.
Sibal said he has only one sister, Asha Nanda, who lives in Maharani Bagh in New Delhi. "I have no other sister," he said. "...because I have been attacking (Narendra) Modi and attacking the BJP, obviously for them this is the only way to spread lie and to vilify my name. And if they have the courage they should name me. These political leaders who are tangentially talking about me should name me if they have the courage," he said.
Referring to claims that he held 80 per cent shares in Tehelka magazine till 2011, he said, "I don't even have a single share. No share has ever been allotted to me." Sibal said he does not believe in "this kind of political discourse" ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
"What if I were to say, remember that image of the leader of the opposition with her head on shielding the Reddy brothers. But this is not the kind of political discourse we want in this country. We are going into a general election, let's talk about issues," he said.
Sibal said opposition parties should "not reduce the general election as if you have applied for a life-long patent for lies. Maybe the RSS has that life-long pattern, but at least the leader of the opposition should not apply for the licence of that patent."
Referring to the message in circulation in the social media, which claims that under such circumstances, justice could not be given to the junior journalist who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Tejpal, he said it was unfair to drag him in the issue.
"Now, in such a sensitive matter, when courts are dealing with it, these people are trying to politicise the issue and bring my fair name into the picture merely because they know that I state facts about their leader," he said.
On Swaraj's tweet, Sibal said, "There is someone in the BJP who has said that I am shielding Tejpal. That person should have the courage to name me." "I think that at least the leaders of opposition of political parties, those who claim to have been in the law should be a little more sensitive in a matter which involves a young girl and not politicise these matters," he said.