BJP move against PC to embarrass Cong

Fernandes was boycotted by the then main Opposition party - Congress - for over two years. He resigned on March 15, 2001 in the face of the sting operation conducted by a weekly magazine but was re-inducted to the cabinet on October 15, the same year.

Soon after,  the  ‘coffin scam’ broke through a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. As Fernandes refused to resign, Congress, in a bid to mount pressure, decided to boycott him in Parliament. The first such action against a minister in Parliament’s history continued successfully for over two years, until the 2004 elections. However, Congress faced embarrassment as two of its then MPs - Jagmeet Singh Brar and Lakshman Singh - defied the party line.

The scam related to caskets being allegedly purchased at a price many times their actual cost during the Kargil war. The issue became a major embarrassment for then Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government. (Fernandes, however, was cleared by the one man commission headed by retired Justice Phukan. The report was rejected by the UPA government.)

The NDA now wants the UPA to face the music. The opposition sees Chidambaram as a vulnerable target on two counts - a judgement against him is being reserved in the Supreme Court in the 2G spectrum scam - which means it may be delivered any day.

Secondly, in a major setback to the minister, the Madras High Court, in August this year, rejected his application seeking to dismiss a petition challenging his election in the Sivaganga constituency in the parliamentary election in 2009. Defeated candidate Raja Kannappan of the AIADMK had challenged the election of Chidambaram from the constituency.

The NDA, along with the Left parties are trying to corner the government on the 2G issue, taking it from where they left in the monsoon session.

The opposition ire against the government and the minister is more so because it sees  Chidambaram being shielded by the UPA coalition. A controversial office memorandum, dated March 25, 2011, forwarded to the prime minister's office with the consent of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, with whom Chidambaram has none-too cozy relationship, pointed out that the 2G scam could have been prevented had the latter opted for auction of spectrum licences, instead of first come first served basis.

The government virtually forced Mukherjee to give clean chit to Chidambaram while documents which became public later showed that the March office note was prepared at the behest of PMO!

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