New Delhi: The arrest of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram on Wednesday led to a political slugfest between the Congress and the BJP.
While the Congress accused the BJP-led government of indulging in "political vendetta" and using the arrest as a "tactic" to divert attention from banking and other scams, the saffron party rejected the charge, saying there was no interference from the government and the law was taking its own course.
Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said it was a classic diversionary tactic to hide "corruption scams, mal-governance and mal-administration that have marred this government".
"The Congress party will not be deterred by the unleashing of vendetta against P Chidambaram or his family. We will continue to speak the truth. We will continue to expose the (Narendra) Modi government’s corruption and continue to hold them accountable to the people of the country," he told reporters in New Delhi.
"To divert attention and distract the narrative, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government are following their old trick of using a political witch-hunt, vendetta and malicious intent to deflect the heat from the unprecedented bank scams and loss to the public exchequer caused by the culture of crony capitalism," Surjewala alleged.
Countering the charge, Law Minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the nature of evidence available against the offender must speak for itself and not the claim of revenge.
"...I will only make one observation. When such issues are raised, what is important is that the nature of evidence available against the offender must speak for itself and not the alibi of vendetta," he told reporters in New Delhi.
Karti, 46, was arrested by a CBI team on Wednesday morning on his return from London in connection with its probe in the INX Media case.
Prasad said there was no interference from the government and that the law must take its course.
"The law is taking its course. The law must take its course. The CBI will explain all the details. We do not wish to interfere. There is no interference of the government," he said.
A band of Congress leaders, including Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi, came out in support of Karti Chidambaram, sharply criticising his arrest.
Senior Congress leader Sibal termed the arrest "malafide" and claimed that it was done to harass P Chidambaram.
"This is complete vendetta politics. This is completely malafide," he said.
An FIR filed by the CBI on May 15 last year had alleged irregularities in an FIPB clearance granted to INX Media for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, when P Chidambaram was the Union finance minister.
"But the prime minister has not made the transition from 'Maun Modi' to 'Bol Modi'. The prime minister remains mum about 'Çhhota Modi' as also Mehul Choksi," Surjewala said, referring to Nirav Modi, the diamantaire allegedly involved in a mega bank fraud with his uncle, Choksi.
He said the government was seeking "political vendetta" to mask the "culture of colossal corruption and cronyism" flourishing unchecked and the "puppet CBI and ED" were being used to "divert, deflect and distract" attention from scams worth Rs 31,691 crore exposed in the last 10 days.
The government's "mask of a corruption crusader" was in shambles with successive scams getting uncovered over the last 45 months and "zero action" being taken against the fraudsters, he said.
Surjewala said the "political persecution" of P Chidambaram and the arrest of his son by a "puppet CBI", acting to "serve the agenda of its political masters", were the "cogs in this wheel".
"Facts of the case completely uncover the sinister diversionary tactics of the Modi government," he said.
Congress spokesperson Singhvi said Karti Chidambaram's arrest showed the government's "double standards".
While Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya were not stopped from fleeing the country, Karti Chidambaram was arrested after he returned from a foreign tour, he said.
Singhvi also questioned the timing of the arrest, wondering if it had anything to do with the upcoming Karnataka Assembly election and whether it was aimed at deflecting attention from the Nirav Modi case.
Published Date: Mar 01, 2018 09:59 AM | Updated Date: Mar 01, 2018 17:18 PM