CBI raids Chidambarams' homes: Here's why the Congress fightback has to be more political than legal

Revenge politics, political vendetta, witch-hunt: The Congress can use any combination of words to describe the raids on the properties of P Chidambaram.

File image of P Chidambaram. AFP

File image of P Chidambaram. AFP

Interestingly, their choice of words would not be unjustified.

However, it is not for the reason the party would like to believe. Namely, that the former finance minister is not guilty of misusing his office and helping his son amass crores, but because beyond the noise and hyper-ventilation there might simply be no case.

How many times have we seen this in the past three years? Too many times, one is afraid.

Raids are conducted, commissions are formed, selective information is disbursed by ‘official sources’ among those who would accept them without question. The media turns into a lynch mob, each outlet claiming to possess "exclusive" and "explosive" material. All of them hounding the target.

But after all the tamasha, how many big fish or high-profile accused land up behind bars? How many of those cases are even approaching their conclusion? It is indeed, frustrating.

It's even more disconcerting when every FIR or raid is hyped in the media as the finishing line. In fact, it's only the start of a lengthy legal process.

All the documents flaunted in TV studios by anchors as irrefutable proof may not even qualify as credible evidence when put to legal scrutiny. So what's the deal?

It's simply politics by another name with everyone — political parties, the government, investigative agencies and media — playing their part in the game.

Raids, as Chidambaram would know, don't mean much by themselves.

There's still plenty of distance for investigative agencies to cover before it's taken to its logical conclusion. What would be worrying Chidambaram the most is what fills in the gap.

Given the partisan quality of political discourse, Chidambaram would be judged guilty until he is proven innocent, which would not only damage his own image but also that of his beleaguered party. Also, being a senior politician, he stands to lose much more than his son Karti. Which explains Chidambaram playing the victim card and painting himself as the target.

“The government is using the CBI and other agencies to target my son and his friends. The aim is to stop me from writing and silencing me as it has done in the case of leaders of other parties, journalists, columnists and the civil society,” he told the media, asserting that he would continue to speak and write.

Actually, Chidambaram is left with no other option. While he is critical of the government in his newspaper columns, it is, by no means, damaging to the government. Under attack from all sides, Chidambaram can only elevate his criticism to a virtue.

The Congress, intimately familiar with the old game of using investigative agencies to harass political opponents, is convinced that the BJP's motives cannot be pure.

While the BJP may claim that they are only interested in seeing that the corrupt are brought to book, the fact remains that all the recent targets of government agencies have been either Congress leaders or leaders of parties that are unfriendly to the BJP.

The BJP's intention is simple: Further damaging the Congress' already battered public image. So the Congress has to fight back more politically than legally.

The media’s witch hunt, clearly in favour of the government, makes the battle uneven. So, like Chidambaram, it can only resort to bravado.

And such bravado came from party spokesman Randeep Surjewala: “Neither P Chidambaram nor the Congress would be cowed by the politics of revenge and vendetta,” he said.

Surjewala pointed out that several BJP leaders and ministers, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi were accused of dubious deals but no action has been initiated against them.

Even if his allegations are true, his party can do little about it. It has to offer a strong political response.

This isn't so much about any particular case of corruption. This is politics.



Updated Date: May 16, 2017 21:49 PM

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