Noisy interruptions and two adjournments marked the proceedings in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, as the Opposition trained its guns on Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, making allegations regarding his involvement in the Aircel-Maxis deal. Mr. Chidambaram dismissed the charges as “wild and reckless.”
The issue of the controversial five-year-old deal was raised earlier in the day by senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who said that prima facie what happened was a ‘big scandal' and the government “shouldn't hush it up.”
Leader of the House and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee tried to intervene, leading to an angry outburst. The House was adjourned till afternoon.
When the Lok Sabha reassembled after lunch, Mr. Chidambaram tried to reply to the charges made by the Opposition but the uproar from the Opposition benches continued to interrupt the proceedings. He made efforts to be heard while reading out a statement made by his son Karti, on the deal.
“My son has issued a statement in Chennai, and I would like to read that as part of my statement,” Mr. Chidambaram said, to noisy chants from the Opposition.
“I categorically state that neither me nor any member of my family have acquired or hold any stake in Aircel or Maxis. The person is known to make wild and reckless allegations. It is deeply regretted that the privileged forum of Parliament is misused to level wild and reckless allegations against a private citizen,” the Home Minister said. He said that he was making the statement as a member had levelled allegations against him and a member of his family.
Quoting Poet Thiruvalluvar in Tamil, Mr. Chidambaram said: “Inna seitharai oruthal avar naana nannayam seidhu vidal. It means that to people who cause harm to you, you shame them by returning it with good.” He also quoted from the Franciscan nuns. “When I was a student, I was taught by the nuns to say, “God, forgive them, for they don't know what they do. I pray that God will forgive the sins of these people.”
Congress defends Chidambaram
The Congress defended Mr. Chidambaram, with party spokesperson Manish Tewari repeating the party's and UPA government's official line on the subject.
Mr. Tewari referred to the official statements made by the Union Finance Ministry on April 28 and May 8, which stressed that the allegation that the proposal of M/s Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, Mauritius (a wholly owned subsidiary of M/s Maxis Communications Berhad) to acquire 73.99 per cent equity in M/s Aircel Ltd was delayed by Mr. Chidambaram as Finance Minister in order to benefit certain persons was “totally baseless.”
However, there was concern that the issue would continue to derail Parliament as the Opposition indicated it wished to raise the matter again on Friday, objecting to the fact that Mr. Chidambaram had not served notice to deliver a statement and that he had, therefore, violated protocol; and two, that he read out a statement issued by his son in Parliament.