Under attack,PC reads son’s statement in LS

I categorically state that neither me nor any member of my family have acquired or hold any stake in any telecom company.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: May 11, 2012 12:03:58 am

With the Opposition targeting him in the Lok Sabha for alleged involvement in the Aircel-Maxis deal,Union 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,reading from Karti Chidambaram’s statement,amid the Opposition’s demand for his resignation.

“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 leaders trooped to the well of the House.

The Opposition’s attack came during zero hour,when former finance minister Yashwant Sinha said the Rs 4,000-crore Aircel-Maxis deal had raised several questions,alleging that Karti Chidambaram had a five per cent stake in either Aircel or Maxis. He also sought a clarification from Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee,saying while the Opposition had been waiting to raise the issue in Parliament,the government had issued a clarification on the FIPB clearance to the deal.

Without naming Chidambaram,who was the finance minister in 2006 when the deal took place,Sinha said 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 Chidambaram’s son had reportedly bought shares. He questioned how Maxis could buy 99.3 per cent shares of Aircel when the rules state that foreign equity cannot exceed 74 per cent.

In the melee that ensued,Mukherjee lost his temper and refused to give any clarification. Opposition members said they objected to some strong words used by Mukherjee. After the House reconvened at 4 pm,Mukherjee expressed “regret” for losing his temper,saying it was “not appropriate”.

When Chidambaram came to respond to the allegations,BJP members tried to stop him,questioning 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.”

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