Chidambaram invokes Jesus after Opposition’s resignation demand
The controversy over the Aircel-Maxis deal on Thursday erupted in Parliament with the Opposition dubbing it as a big scam and demanding Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s resignation but he dismissed charges saying that neither he nor any member of his family were involved.
The Lok Sabha saw a surcharged atmosphere with Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha turning his guns on Chidambaram during Zero Hour and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee getting angry at the Opposition. The ensuing turmoil led to two adjournments and a regret later by Mukherjee for losing his cool.
Amid vociferous chants against him by the Opposition, including the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which was demanding his resignation, Chidambaram read out a statement issued by his son, Karthi saying “I wish to read that statement as part of my statement.” “I have learnt that Yashwant Sinha, made a statement today in the Lok Sabha to the effect that I have acquired and hold 5 per cent of equity in a telecom company by name Aircel. I categorically state that neither I nor any member of my family have acquired or hold any share in any telecom company. “In particular, I categorically state that neither I nor any member of my family have acquired or hold any share in either Aircel or Maxis,” the Home Minister said.
In an obvious reference to Janata Party cheif Subramanian Swamy, he said the statement was first made by a “person who is known to indulge in making wild and reckless allegations“. It was for the second time this week that the issue was raised in Parliament.
Sinha said, “Prima facie, what has happened is a big scam and government should not hush it up” as the Rs. 4,000 crore deal has raised several serious questions and has led to a major controversy. He wanted a statement from Mukherjee, who is the Leader of the House as also the Finance Minister.
Objecting to the manner in which the issue was raised by Sinha without giving any notice, Chidambaram invoked Jesus saying, “God, forgive them for they know not what they do. I pray that God will forgive the sins of these people.” Without naming Chidambaram, who was the Finance Minister in 2006 when the deal took place, Sinha earlier alleged that the minister had not recused himself when the matter came up before the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) of which he was the head. Amid cries of "shame, shame", Sinha said there was a conflict of interest as Chidambaram’s son had allegedly bought 5 per cent shares. He wondered as to how Maxis could buy 99.3 per cent of the shares of Aircel when the rules permit that a foreign equity cannot exceed 74 per cent.
Chidambaram said it was unfortunate that “the same allegation should be repeated in Parliament by an MP... it is deeply regretted that the privileged forum of Parliament is misused to make wild and reckless allegations against a private citizen.” While he spoke, the BJP as also the AIADMK members stormed the well and raised slogans. Sinha was seen asking under what rule Chidambaram was making the statement in the House. The Home Minister said he was making the statement as a member had levelled allegations “against me and a member of my family“.
The turmoil over the issue is likely to continue with BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain saying that it would demand clarification from the Finance Minister on the government stand over the issue as the statement made by Chidambaram was a “personal” one. Sinha lamented that it was strange that he was not allowed to raise the matter in Parliament but the Finance Ministry issued a press statement denying some reports on it.
- Asian Tribune -