With the Tamil Nadu assembly polls around the corner, the AIADMK raised the political heat Tuesday on former Union Minister P Chidambaram by stalling proceedings in both Houses of Parliament to seek action against his son Karti based on a news report about his alleged business interests abroad.
With AIADMK MPs displaying copies of The Pioneer newspaper which claimed in a report that raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax had revealed Karti’s investments in real estate deals as part of a “huge business empire” across the world, Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day at around 2.45 pm and Rajya Sabha around 4 pm.
Later, Karti said in a statement, “One newspaper has made allegations against me, which have been adequately refuted in the past. Myself and my business are fully compliant with all laws and regulations.”
He also told reporters, “All filings are up to date. All statutory regulatory filings are completely up to date. That is all I have got to say… If I am compliant, I can’t be money laundering.”
The BJD, meanwhile, submitted two notices for discussions in Lok Sabha on the alleged Aircel-Maxis scam. The CBI is investigating whether the then finance minister P Chidambaram was the competent authority to give approval to Maxis subsidiary Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd to invest $800 million in Aircel Ltd in 2006; other similar cases were sent to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for approval.
After Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu stated that the Government was open to a debate, BJD floor leader Bhartruhari Mahtab submitted a notice under Rule 184 (which entails voting) and another under Rule 193 (requiring a reply from the Government, but without a head count).
The notice under Rule 184 read: “This House disapproves of the tardy manner in which investigations are being conducted in the Aircel-Maxis scam and the failure of the investigating agencies to file a charge-sheet in the scam”.
While the AIADMK is gunning for Chidambaram’s son in the backdrop of the coming polls, the BJD appears to have tagged along to check the Congress from emerging as the sole anti-BJP force at the national level. The BJD is also trying to revive the idea of a federal formation comprising three regional leaders — Naveen Patnaik (BJD), Mamata Banerjee (Trinamool Congress) and J Jayalalithaa (AIADMK) — that had got stuck after generating initial enthusiasm.
This time, indications are that the Congress and the Left would go together in West Bengal, which sets the Trinamool Congress against the main opposition party. In Tamil Nadu, the Congress and the DMK have already announced their alliance.
In Lok Sabha, AIADMK leader P Venugopal demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi make a statement on the issue in the House. While Congress members protested when Venugopal alleged that two former union ministers had made crores in the Aircel-Maxis deal, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the case was in Supreme Court and that the government could only do what was within the law.
In the Rajya Sabha, too, the AIADMK contingent blocked proceedings through the day, demanding the arrest of P Chidambaram. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that the government had “engineered these protests” to force the postponement of a calling attention motion that Opposition parties had brought on inflammatory speeches by leaders of the ruling party.
In Rajya Sabha, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien even threatened the protesting AIADMK MPs, led by V Maitreyan, with suspension but to no avail.