Breather perhaps, but Chidambaram still in trouble

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court ruling on the 2G scam may have provided him a breather. But Home Minister P. Chidambaram, facing unending flak since 2009, is still not out of danger zone in the case.

For a politician who has seen meteoric rise, there seem to be no end to troubles dogging him since the Congress returned to power three years ago.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court, while cancelling 122 2G licences, left the decision of probing the role of Chidambaram — who was then finance minister — in the case to a separate trial court.

This was enough for the opposition to demand that Chidambaram should step down.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “The upfront of today’s order is that his role has to be investigated… He has no moral right to continue.”

In the first year as home minister, post Mumbai attack, Chidambaram, now 67, won praise even from the BJP for his handling of the security situation.

But the honeymoon was short.

A petition against the Harvard-educated lawyer in the Madras High Court questions the validity of his election to the Lok Sabha in 2009.

He has been accused of manipulating the vote count. The petition has been filed Raja Kannappan of the AIADMK, now Tamil Nadu’s ruling party.

2011 was a bad year for Chidambaram.

He drew flak over the way Yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s gathering in Delhi was broken up by Delhi Police, which cracked down on thousands of men and women in a midnight raid. The action left a woman dead.

He was also widely blamed for the arrest of social activist Anna Hazare in August last year that led to widespread protests.

Chidambaram was at the receiving end in the winter session of parliament for allegedly influencing police to quash a criminal case against a Delhi hotelier who was his former client. He denied the charge.

The minister was earlier embarrassed when it was found that of a list of India’s most wanted fugitives said to be hiding in Pakistan included three men who were actually in India — and one in a Mumbai prison!

The list had been overseen by the home ministry.

Denounced as arrogant by some of his own Congress colleagues, Chidambaram has ceaselessly hogged the limelight since the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) returned to power in 2009.

The suave, articulate Tamil politician was a close associate of late former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

He first got elected to parliament from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu in 1984, and immediately became a junior home minister under Rajiv Gandhi.

He held the commerce portfolio under P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1991. He climbed the ladder to become finance minister in 1996 in the governments led by H.D. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral.

He lost the 1999 Lok Sabha election after falling out with the Congress but returned to national politics in 2004 as finance minister and later as home minister in December 2008.