'Witch-Hunt': Congress Rallies Behind Chidambaram, Seeks Opposition's Support

The former finance minister's son Karti Chidambaram said that the CBI is deliberately indulging in “drama and spectacle” to entertain its political bosses in the BJP. 

New Delhi: Even as former finance and home minister P. Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI from his Jor Bagh residence late Wednesday evening, the Congress stood firmly in support.

According to sources in the party, it is also looking at reaching out to other opposition parties for support in this regard. The press meet that Chidambaram addressed at the Congress office before he was taken into custody was “an attempt to not only highlight that the senior party leader was not absconding as the BJP was trying to portray but also to underline political vendetta of the ruling party towards an opposition party.”

“The way he was arrested, they treated him like a terrorist. There was every attempt made to humiliate him. Today, it is happening with us, tomorrow it will be with some other party,” said a senior Congress leader.

Other opposition leaders were slower to react, with ANI reporting that DMK president M.K. Stalin labelled the move “political vendetta”. He said the CBI “jumped the wall” and arrested him.

The news agency also reported that TMC chief Mamata Banerjee said “sometimes the process is incorrect”. He said the way the former finance and home minister was handled was “depressing”.

Soon after a lookout notice was issued against the former Congress minister, Sanjay Nirupam of the Congress tweeted that the government’s move was excessive. 

The party’s national spokesperson, Randeep Surjewala, said that the unprecedented arrest of a senior leader was nothing short of a “witch-hunt”.

“The shameless witch-hunt & unheard of abuse of CBI/ED by Modi Govt 2.0 is playing on every TV screen in India. It’s a sham and shame that democracy stands dead in the hands of the BJP,” he said.

Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, who is also an accused in the INX media money-laundering case, said that his father’s arrest was a politically-motivated step by the BJP. He said that the CBI is deliberately indulging in “drama and spectacle” to entertain its political bosses in the BJP. 

Shashi Tharoor, Congress’ Trivandrum MP, also tweeted in support of his colleague. 

Earlier in the day, when the CBI issued a lookout notice against Chidambaram, both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi came out staunchly in support of him.

An extremely qualified and respected member of the Rajya Sabha, @PChidambaram_IN ji has served our nation with loyalty for decades including as finance minister and home minister. He unhesitatingly speaks truth to power and exposes the failures of this government, but the truth is inconvenient to cowards so he is being shamefully hunted down. We stand by him and will continue to fight for the truth no matter what the consequences are,” tweeted Priyanka.

An hour before his arrest, Chidambaram held a press conference to dismiss the allegations against him and BJP’s claim that he has been evading arrest. He said that he was “in pursuit of justice” and the case against him is flimsy at best and politically motivated. 

Interestingly, in 2010, when the current Union home minister Amit Shah served a three-month imprisonment in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, Chidambaram was serving as home minister. Clearly, the tide has turned.