After six years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) being in power, General Elections were held in 2004 and contrary to expectations of most political pundits, the performance of the NDA was well below par and this led to the Sonia Gandhi led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) storming to power with Dr Manmohan Singh as the dummy prime minister. The UPA was at the helm of affairs for ten long years between 2004 and 2014 and this period will go down in Indian history as a dark period characterized by several scams to the tune of lakhs of crores of rupees and also serious compromises on national security owing to the vested interests of many top ministers in the government.
During this ten year period, Palaniappan Chidambaram was the finance minister for around six and a half years and in the wake of the 26/11 attacks, was handed over the ministry of home affairs, which he kept for the remaining three and a half years. The one thing common in most of the scams during the UPA rule was the involvement of Chidambaram. Let us now briefly look at the various misdeeds committed by Chidambaram during this tenure.
1. 2G scam:
The first two names that would come to mind on hearing the term ‘2G scam’ are DMK’s A Raja and M.K. Kanimozhi. In the allotment of 2G spectrum, licenses were given to companies by violating several laws and bribes were paid to favor certain firms. Companies like Unitech and Swan Telecom did not have any experience in the telecom sector and were ineligible to receive licenses, but rules were bent and licenses granted to these firms, for a hefty bribe of course.
The cut-off date for application for licenses was advanced from 1st Octber 2007 to 25th September 2007 to unfairly favor certain companies. Had the allotment process been fair, it would have resulted in additional revenue of 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer (with due respects to Kapil Sibal’s brilliant zero loss theory).
Considering that Chidambaram was the Finance Minister during this period, it is difficult to believe that all this happened without his silent consent.
On matters like pricing of the spectrum, Chidambaram should have intervened keeping national interests in mind, but he chose not to. A Raja has himself admitted that the allocation of licenses was discussed with both Chidambaram and the then PM Dr Manmohan Singh.
2. Aircel Maxis scam:
The Aircel Maxis scam has its roots in the 2G scam. Aircel chief C Sivasankaran complained to the CBI about being forced by Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran to sell 74% stake to Malaysian based Maxis Communications. In return, the Maran brothers received kickbacks in the form of investments by Maxis Group in Sun TV networks, owned by the Maran family. Chidambaram’s son Karti owns a company by name Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited, which had loaned 26 Lakh rupees to Aircel. Chidambaram withheld the FIPB approval of this deal until his son Karti received a 5% share of Aircel to get a part of the 40 billion paid by Maxis for a 74% share of Aircel.
3. Influencing FIPB to regularize unapproved investments by INX Media:
This is the latest controversy that came to light yesterday. INX Media, a company owned by Indrani and Peter Mukherjea, had an approval to receive funds from overseas investors upto only 4.62 crores. But in reality, the company has received a funding of Rs 305 crore from overseas investors, including through direct investment. This investment was cleared by the FIPB (headed by PC) for a fee.
At least 3.5 crore rupees have been paid by INX Media to companies that are directly or indirectly controlled by Karti Chidambaram. On what basis did the FIPB clearance happen? The only answer that shameless Congress sympathizers have for this question is political vendetta by the current NDA government.
4. Creating the myth of saffron terror:
If Chidambaram’s stint as Finance Minister was characterized by numerous scams, his stint as Home Minister was characterized by blatant minority appeasement and compromise of national security for the vested interests of the scam tainted Congress party. The term Saffron Terror was coined by Chidambaram in the wake of the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings and the 2008 Malegaon blasts.
The Samjhauta Express blasts has been linked to the supposedly radical Hindu group Abhinav Bharat and some people have been arrested in this regard. Shrikant Purohit and Swamy Aseemanand have been arrested for plotting the attack and the ATS has claimed to have a statement from both Aseemanand. However, Aseemanand has claimed that he was tortured into giving a false statement.
In the Malegaon blasts, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur was arrested without any concrete evidence and tortured in jail. The only evidence pointed out was that the bomb was kept in a motorcycle, which at one point belonged to Pragya Singh. Investigations in both the cases point to the involvement of LeT. While it is true that there are some radical elements from the Hindu community, coining the word saffron terror to demonize the entire community is grossly unfair. Most terror attacks the world over are caused by radical Muslims and at that time, terror would have no religion. One must thanks god that Ajmal Kasab was caught during 26/11, else Chidambaram and his crew would have made us believe that 26/11 was also a saffron terror attack.
5. Changing the affidavit in the Ishrat Jahan encounter-
An affidavit, filed in connection with the Ishrat Jahan encounter, was modified by the then Home Minister Chidambaram brushing aside intelligence inputs that Ishrat Jahan had terror links and was on a mission to assassinate the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi.
These revelations were made by former Home Secretary GK Pillai. This was a blatant act of minority appeasement and Ishrat was made out to be an innocent Muslim victim at the hands of the Gujarat police.