Shimla: Shoot the messenger, say sorry and erase a decade old political rivalry was the fiat accompli of the drama enacted in a Himachal Pradesh court here today as two out of public favour former chief ministers shook hands and made up, much to the shock and awe of the large attendance in the judicial complex.
Prem Kumar Dhumal, the former chief minister, today withdrew a decade old defamation suite against Captain Amarinder Singh, the former chief minister of Punjab, after the latter blamed the media for misquoting his speech delivered from a public platform in Hamirpur on 18 January, 2003.
Dhumal and I share a cordial relationship, said Amarinder after he expressed regret in court for having caused any hurt to him.
“During the course of my speech on that day at Hamirpur, I made no personal attack on Dhumal though I did criticize his government,” said the former Punjab chief minister in the court of chief judicial magistrate Jyotsana Dadwal.
Unfortunately the speech was incorrectly reported in some newspapers, said Amarinder. “I regret the hurt caused to Dhumal by incorrect media reporting,” he added.
The confusion created by the media was settled after the two of us sat down together and agreed to not pursue the case any further, Cpt. Amarinder, who is also the scion of the Patiala Royal House, said after Dhumal had withdrawn the defamation suit.
The former Punjab chief minister was accompanied by his counsel RS Cheema.
Offended by the sharp personal attacks launched against him just before the general assembly election in 2003, Dhumal who as chief minister was then completing his first term in office had served notice on 25 January, 2003 asking Amarinder Singh, AICC general secretary Moti Lal Vohra and AICC spokesman Anand Sharma to tender unqualified apologies within 48 hours for the serious allegations about him having amassed properties disproportionate to known sources of income.
Earlier Sharma and Vohra had even released a list of properties worth about Rs 25 Cr allegedly owned by Dhumal and his close relatives.
Having let Amarinder of the hook, Dhumal who had earlier appeared in court with his counsel Satyapal Jain said, “I’m withdrawing the case against him but will continue to press the defamation suite against Sharma and Vohra.
Having concluded the day’s proceedings, the court listed the next hearing in the case for 28 September.
Photo by Amit