Chidambaram courts another controversy

Chidambaram courts another controversy

Accused of helping a former client; Oppn demands his resignation

Chidambaram courts another controversy

The Opposition BJP and the AIADMK disrupted proceedings in both Houses of Parliament, demanding immediate resignation of Chidambaram.

The Lok Sabha was adjourned after witnessing uproarious scene during Zero Hour, as the BJP and AIADMK MPs trooped to the well of the House, demanding Chidambaram’s resignation. The House reassembled at 2:00 pm, but was soon adjourned for the day as similar noisy scenes persisted. Rajya Sabha too was adjourned for about 50 minutes soon after it assembled.

The government sought to defend the Home Minister, claiming that he had no role in the withdrawal of the FIRs against Delhi-based hotelier S P Gupta. The Congress too stood by Chidambaram, who was already in the Opposition’s line of fire for his alleged involvement in the 2G telecom spectrum allocation scam.

The Home Minister was not present in any of the Houses during the ruckus.
The Congress government in the National Capital Territory of Delhi on Thursday revoked its earlier decision not to press for prosecution of cases against Gupta.
Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejinder Khanna had on November 18 last approved withdrawal of the cases on the basis of recommendations by a screening committee headed by Principal Secretary (Home) in the Government of NCT.

Quoting media-reports, the MPs belonging to the BJP and other Opposition parties accused Chidambaram of misusing his office to approve withdrawal of the FIRs against Gupta, whom he had appeared for as a lawyer before the Company Law Board in 2001 and Delhi High Court in 2003.

Chidambaram joined the Union Cabinet after the UPA-I government came to power in May 2004.

The BJP alleged that Chidambaram, an eminent lawyer, had represented Gupta in three cases in the past and unsuccessfully tried to get the FIRs quashed by the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court.

Acting on a representation by Gupta to the Union Home Secretary, the Home Ministry on May 9 last directed the Delhi government to withdraw prosecution against him immediately. The MHA’s directive to the Delhi government Principal Secretary (Home) mentioned that it had the approval of the Union Home Minister.

“This is a very serious matter. In matters concerning justice, nothing can be more serious. Chidambaram has misused his authority as Home Minister and ordered withdrawal of cases against Gupta.... He is not only guilty of improper conduct but also criminal offence. A criminal cannot be Home Minister,” senior BJP leader and Lok Sabha MP Yashwant Sinha told journalists. “The prime minister should immediately sack him. We cannot allow his continuance in office for even a moment.” Left party members also joined the chorus against the Home Minister with D Raja of the Communist Party of India stating that the allegations against Chidambaram appeared credible and made his position untenable.

The MPs of the BJP-led NDA have already been targeting Chidambaram for his alleged role in the 2G scam. They have not been allowing him to speak in both Houses of Parliament. The home minister was barely audible last Wednesday when he rose to reply to questions in the Rajya Sabha. On Monday, he avoided a similar situation by staying away and letting his junior colleague M Ramachandran introduce a bill in the Lok Sabha.