With the Opposition targeting him in the Lok Sabha alleging his involvement in the Aircel-Maxis deal,Home Minister P Chidambaram today read out a statement by his son Karti declaring that neither he nor any member of his family had acquired or had any stake in Aircel or Maxis.
I categorically state that neither me nor any member of my family have acquired or hold any stake in any telecom company. In particular,I categorically state that neither I nor any member of my family have acquired or hold any share in either Aircel or Maxis, he told the Lok Sabha amid the Oppositions demands for his resignation.
The statement was first made by a person who is known to indulge in making wild and reckless allegations. It is unfortunate that the same allegation should be repeated in Parliament by an honourable MP. It is deeply regretted that the privileged forum of Parliament is misused to level wild and reckless allegations against a private citizen, he read,as BJP members trooped to the well of the House.
The Oppositions attack came during zero hour,when senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said the Rs 4,000-crore Aircel-Maxis deal had raised several questions,while alleging that Karti Chidambaram had a five per cent stake in either Aircel or Maxis.
Without naming Chidambaram,Sinha alleged that the minister had not recused himself when the matter came up before the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) which he headed. Sinha said there was a conflict of interest as Chidambarams son had reportedly bought five per cent shares.
In the ruckus,Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee lost his temper at the Opposition members and refused to give any clarification. Congress president Sonia Gandhi could be seen trying to placate him. After the House reconvened at 4 pm,Mukherjee expressed regret: I tried to intervene in a matter raised by Yashwant Sinha,but an unfortunate incident took place…I lost temper. It was not appropriate for me, he said. When Chidambaram came to respond to the allegations,BJP members asked him under what rule he was doing so. The Home Minister said he was making the statement as a member had levelled allegations against me and a member of my family. Objecting to the manner in which the issue was raised by Sinha without giving any notice,Chidambaram said,I pray to God to forgive their sins.
On April 28,the government had issued a statement on the foreign investment made by Global Communication Services Holdings,Mauritius,to acquire 73.99% equity in Aircel. Subsequently,another application was received for downstream investment by GCSH.
The Government listed the dates September 1,2006,as application for investment; October 3 for meeting of FIPB when it recommended the proposal; October 6 when the minutes of FIPB were drawn up; October 12 when the finance minister approved the minutes and Oct 20 when the formal letter of approval was issued. This made it clear,the government said,that approval was granted without delay.