Furious Opposition Members of Parliament brought both Houses to a standstill on Friday, calling for the resignation of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram. The demand came in the wake of allegations that he misused his power to direct the Delhi Police to withdraw criminal proceedings against a businessman who had been his client.
Led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, Opposition MPs marched into the well of the Lok Sabha, soon after it met at 11 a.m., carrying placards calling on the government to sack Mr. Chidambaram.
They raised slogans and displayed newspaper front pages with stories of Mr. Chidambaram's alleged misconduct, forcing Speaker Meira Kumar to adjourn the House.
In the Rajya Sabha, Chairman Hamid Ansari asked agitated BJP members to allow him to read an obituary reference to MP Raj Bahadur Gour. The protesting MPs refused to quieten down, angering Mr. Ansari. “At least respect the dead, even if you cannot respect each other,” he said.
The Vice-President's angry words brought some calm, but the din resumed soon after, forcing Mr. Ansari to adjourn the House.
Ever since news broke of Mr. Chidambaram's alleged misconduct, the BJP has maintained that it will not let Parliament function unless the Home Minister resigns or is sacked. BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told journalists on Thursday that Mr. Chidambaram was “guilty of a criminal offence… A criminal cannot be Home Minister of the country,” he said.
The allegations against Mr. Chidambaram, first reported by CNN-IBN channel, relate to a First Information Report filed against the Delhi businessman, S.P. Gupta, on a dispute with a finance company. Mr. Chidambaram represented Mr. Gupta in court. Mr. Gupta also separately petitioned the Home Ministry against what he claimed were unlawful cases against him.
Soon after Mr. Chidambaram took office in 2008, the Home Ministry began replying to Mr. Gupta's petitions, and asked the Delhi Police for information related to the case. It also consulted the Law Ministry for advice in the matter. In May, A.K. Saxena, a Director in the Home Ministry, wrote to the Delhi government, saying it should take action “for withdrawal of prosecution immediately.” The letter claimed “this has the approval of the Union Home Minister.”
Mr. Chidambaram and the Home Ministry claim Mr. Saxena acted on his own, without approval, but have yet to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him for what would be a serious offence.
“An FIR was registered on the complaint of a private party against another private party, and I don't see how the Home Ministry can intervene in a matter like that and ask that it be withdrawn,” Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy said.