NEW DELHI: Congress leader Manish Tewari and Shiv Sena spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi clashed on Twitter on Friday over journalist Tarun Tejpal’s acquittal by a Goa court in a rape case. Congress and Shiv Sena are allies in the Maharashtra government.
The bitter spat escalated to a point where Tewari even threatened to take Priyanka to court.
The spat started with Manish posting a tweet urging people to read a teaser to a new book written by Tejpal. “My college senior, the much maligned, hugely politically persecuted and now honourably exonerated, the brilliant and mercurial Tarun Tejpal has written this teaser of his new book Animal Farm. Tarun at his evocative and provocative best. Welcome back friend,” he wrote.
Though Priyanka Chaturvedi did not tag or mention Manish Tewari, she quoted words and phrases from his tweet to attack him by writing “sick mindset” and “shameful”.
In her tweet, Priyanka said: “Today I got to know that Tarun Tejpal was ‘honorably exonerated’ and ‘politically persecuted’. To rubbish a woman’s sexual assault by this cosy club, smacks of their sick mindset. They believe they can behave as they wish around women and laugh off the serious crime. Shameful.”
Today I got to know that Tarun Tejpal was ‘honorably exonerated’ and ‘politically persecuted’. To rubbish a woman’s… https://t.co/guNIp5sfOH
— Priyanka Chaturvedi🇮🇳 (@priyankac19) 1630660333000
Tewari then tagged Chaturvedi and posted a retort, saying: “Unlike you @priyankac19, as a lawyer I know how to read a judgment and respect it. Tarun Tejpal was tried and found innocent. That is the cold hard fact. The Goa government has gone to the High Court. If you have a problem, say what you have to in the High Court of Mumbai and Goa.”
Priyanka replied saying it was her right to write on the social media platform.
“Unlike you @manishtewari, just being a lawyer and ability to read a judgment does not put you on a higher plane. Also this is a free platform. I have a right to opinion as much as you have a right to pat the back of an alleged rapist.,” she said.
Tewari asked Chaturvedi not to cross the line of libel and defamation and issued a threat to her. “It actually does @priyankac19. It makes me acutely conscious about respecting the rule of law and judgments delivered by courts established under our Constitution.
Please do not cross the line of libel and defamation. I would be anguished to take a fellow MP and former colleague to court.”
It actually does @priyankac19 . It makes me acutely conscious about respecting rule of law & judgments delivered by… https://t.co/oGHbVZd4W4
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) 1630661997000
However, the Twitter duel did not end here.
“Ooh! Threat to silence. Typical. As a lawyer should realise my first tweet wasn’t even tagged or marked to you, you chose to jump in and I responded in kind,” Priyanka shot back.
Maintaining his stern stand, Manish retorted: “Ignorance of the law is bliss ain’t it @priyankac19? The law of libel recognises a slur by implication also Ma’am.”
Not to be cowed down despite the serious threat, Priyanka posted her last tweet, calling an end to the debate.
“Ignorance of law is better than ignorance of morality. For the former, one can have lawyers, the latter unfortunately can’t be taught, it is ingrained. EOD, refuse to engage.”
Ignorance of law is better than ignorance of morality. For the former one can has lawyers, the latter unfortunately… https://t.co/VeOA8En9ot
— Priyanka Chaturvedi🇮🇳 (@priyankac19) 1630665409000
Manish Tewari posted a couple of tweets. Tagging Priyanka Chaturvedi again, he posted the screenshot of an old tweet of hers. “Do I recall something or I do not?… In the Court of the Gods of Morality I rest my case my Lord…” he said.
In the Court of the Gods of Morality I rest my case my Lord ….. https://t.co/GOYaRhBZUh https://t.co/awalYiyZEg
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) 1630678697000
Tewari is a Congress Lok Sabha MP from Anandpur Sahib in Punjab and Chaturvedi is a Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra. She is also the deputy leader of her party.
Incidentally, both Manish and Priyanka are national spokespersons of their respective parties.
Moreover, both Manish and Priyanka are former colleagues. Priyanka was a Congress spokesperson before she quit the party and joined Shiv Sena in the midst of the 2019 Lok Sabha election.