Chidambaram invokes Jesus to deny corruption charges
Home Minister P. Chidambaram Thursday invoked an oft-quoted line of Jesus Christ to dismiss the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) allegation that he or his son had financially benefited from a telecom deal in 2006 when he was the finance minister.
"'Father forgive them for they know not what they do'... I pray the god forgive their sins," Chidambaram said in the Lok Sabha, recalling a lesson a missionary teacher had taught him in his school days.
The BJP's Yashwant Sinha, citing a newspaper report and Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy's allegations, earlier said Chidambaram had delayed permission for the sale of Aircel to Malaysia-based Maxis in 2006 so that his son Karthi was financially benefited.
"An honourable MP made a statement in the Lok Sabha making allegations against me and a member of my family... the allegations are wild and reckless," Chidambaram told reporters outside parliament after a din over the issue led to the adjournment of the Lok Sabha.
Swamy had earlier written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, alleging that Karthi's firm and Aircel had entered into a "dubious transaction" in March 2006, just before Maxis' investment of Rs.4,000 crore in the telecom company.
The Janata Party leader in his letter said Chidambaram, the then finance minister, had ensured that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance on the Aircel-Maxis deal be given only after his son's company got a share in Aircel.
But the home minister denied this.
"I categorically state that neither I nor any member of my family member has acquired or hold any share in any telecom company. In particular, I categorically state that neither I nor any member of my family has acquired or hold any share in either Aircel or Maxis," Chidambaram said, reading out a statement from his son.
The statement "deeply regretted" that parliament was being "misused to make wild and reckless allegations against a private citizen".
As Chidambaram was reading the statement in the house, he was shouted down by the opposition. This led to a ruckus, forcing the chair to adjourn the house.
The home minister later read the statement to the media outside parliament.
"The BJP and some others raised the din. Obviously, they didn't wish to hear the statement," a disappointed Chidambaram told reporters.
Earlier, the house was briefly disrupted over the issue when Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha, lost his cool after BJP members sought action against Chidambaram.
Mukherjee said the opposition should not raise the same issue again and again, referring to the disruptions last week.
The finance minister was about to respond but quickly sat down when the opposition members did not hear his appeal to calm down and continued to raise slogans in the house.
Even Congress president Sonia Gandhi tried to pacify an angry Mukherjee.
Hours after his angry outburst led to an hour-long adjournment, Mukherjee expressed his "regret" for losing his cool, and admitted that it was not appropriate on his part. BJP benches welcomed the statement with the thumping of desks.
Soon after the house reassembled at 4 p.m., the finance minister said: "I tried to intervene in a matter raised by Yashwant Sinha, but the unfortunate incident took place. I lost my temper. It was not appropriate for me."