|Arvind Kejriwal and Kapil Sibal hug each other during the Milad-un-Nabi event in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Jan. 14: The hug was probably overdue. After all, the man he had once called a “cheat” had congratulated him last month.
Arvind Kejriwal donned a skullcap and hugged Kapil Sibal today at a mosque, where the two attended an event on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi, when the Prophet’s birthday is observed.
While that’s one for the album, the frame was starkly different even a few months back.
Soon after Sibal had taken over as Union law minister in May last year, Kejriwal had launched a vicious attack on the Congress leader for reversing a decision on telecom major Vodafone’s tax liability.
Sibal had initiated a move for a conciliatory out-of-court settlement with the company over a Rs 11,000-crore tax dispute. Kejriwal, along with AAP leader Prashant Bhushan, had pointed fingers at Sibal for what he called was a conflict of interest. He claimed Sibal’s son Amit was a lawyer for Vodafone and even went to the extent of saying that the Union minister had got a portion of the settlement amount.
Amit responded by filing a defamation case against Kejriwal and Bhushan. The case is pending in court.
In 2011, during Anna Hazare’s Lokpal movement, Sibal, who was part of the government’s team of negotiators, and Kejriwal were at loggerheads.
The Delhi chief minister had then called Sibal a “dhokebaaz” (cheat) and “jhootha” (liar).
However, Sibal has been effusive in his praise for Kejriwal since the Delhi Assembly election results were announced. On December 8, he had tweeted: “Congratulations Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party for a great performance in Delhi. All the best.”
On Tuesday, it was time to reciprocate.
The two leaders shared the stage at Sheikhan mosque in Chandni Chowk, which Sibal represents in the Lok Sabha.
After the event ended, Sibal, whose party now backs Kejriwal’s minority government, extended his hand towards the AAP leader and the two embraced.
Sibal later told reporters not too much should be read into the gesture and not to bring politics into religion. Later, he tweeted a photograph of him and Kejriwal together and wrote: “Differences aside we must always hold on to the great Indian spirit of brotherhood and common goal of a better India.”
Asked whether he had forgiven Kejriwal for the accusations made by him in the Vodafone case, Sibal said: “That is just his way of politics.”
The BJP’s Vijender Gupta, who was also present on the stage, told The Telegraph: “I have been a regular at this function for the last seven years, Kapil Sibal too has been attending for the last few years. Arvind Kejriwal was called for the first time. Sibalji hugged me also. It is just courtesy to do so.”
His party colleague and leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, Harshvardhan, disagreed. “They have been keeping their relationship under wraps all this while, now it is just out in the open,” he said.