- Kapil Sibal's exchange with the judge marked a lighter moment
- It was clearly a joke, but many may read into Mr Sibal's comment
- He has challenging job of defending party as it battles internal crisis
During arguments in the Supreme Court on the Rajasthan Congress crisis, Kapil Sibal, a senior party leader doing the job of defending the Speaker vs Sachin Pilot's rebel squad, confessed that he was "immune to pain" these days.
Mr Sibal's exchange with the judge marked a lighter moment in an intense back-and-forth over whether the Speaker was right to issue disqualification notices to team Pilot for "anti-party" activities and whether the rebels can legally challenge the notices before any action against them.
"Why are you looking pained," Justice Arun Mishra said at one point during Mr Sibal's arguments on a video link that appeared patchy.
"I'm not pained at all. There's so much going on around, I've stopped feeling pained. I'm happy that Mr. Salve is smiling," Mr Sibal returned, referring to rival lawyer Harish Salve, representing Sachin Pilot and 18 rebel Congress MLAs served notices.
"You are in the thinking process," the judge observed.
Mr Sibal, a former union minister who is among the Congress party's top leaders, commented: "Nowadays I am immune from pain (sic)."
He never elaborated at the thread was left at that.
It was clearly a joke, but many may read into Mr Sibal's comment a hint of the challenging job he has to do - defending the party as it battles a huge internal crisis. Three months ago, the Congress lost Madhya Pradesh to similar rebellion. Jyotiraditya Scindia, one of the Congress's most prominent younger leaders, switched to the BJP, taking down the Kamal Nath government.
Now the party faces a similar split in Rajasthan, where Sachin Pilot has broken ranks with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and neither side is willing to budge.