Delhi Deputy Chief minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday said the controversy around Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s legal fee payment in the defamation case filed by Union minister Arun Jaitley was being raked up to divert attention from the alleged tampering of Electronic Voting Machines. “This case has been going on for over a year now. Why is this issue being raised now?” he asked.

Sisodia further defended the Aam Aadmi Party government’s proposal to clear the Rs 3.8-crore payment to senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani saying, “The government had initiated an inquiry into corruption in the Delhi and District Cricket Association. People involved in it filed the case. Why should Arvind Kejriwal pay the bills in personal capacity?” Hindustan Times, reported.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, on the other hand, hit out at the AAP government and said the people of Delhi should not be made to pay for Kejriwal’s “sins”. “This is a dacoity and loot of their money and is completely unacceptable,” Union minister Prakash Javadekar said. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju pointed out that no other chief minister had ever burdened the state exchequer to save themselves, PTI reported.

Sisodia recently forwarded the legal bills to Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal for clearance. Baijal has sought experts’ opinions to figure out whether the government should pay the chief minister’s legal costs.

Kejriwal’s team of lawyers include Jethmalani, who is believed to be the most expensive advocate in the country. He has reportedly billed Kejriwal Rs 1 crore for his retainership and Rs 22 lakh for each appearance in court to represent the chief minister. Jethmalani has made 11 appearances in the case so far, The Times of India reported.

The lawyer said that if Kejriwal could not pay his fee, he would treat the Delhi chief minister as one of his poor clients and represent him for free, ANI reported. “I charge only the rich. For the poor, I work for free. All this is instigated by [Arun] Jailtley who is afraid of my cross-examination,” Jethmalani said.

The case is related to Kejriwal’s allegations against Jaitley accusing the senior minister of wrongdoing when he was the president of the DDCA. Jaitley had filed a civil and criminal defamation case against Kejriwal and a few other AAP leaders in 2016. He has also sought Rs 10 crore in damages.