Parliament disrupted as Oppn guns for Chidambaram

Home Minister P Chidambaram

NEW DELHI: Proceedings in Parliament were disrupted today as Opposition demanded resignation of Home Minister P Chidambaram for his alleged role in Aircel-Maxis deal while Congress sought dismissal of BJP government in Madhya Pradesh over the killing of a farmer in police firing.

The government, however, dismissed the media report in which allegations were leveled against Chidambaram, saying it was “factually incorrect and totally baseless”.

Lok Sabha could not transact any business in the pre-lunch session as it was adjourned thrice till 2 PM. Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice till noon after which normal business resumed.

In the Lok Sabha, trouble started as soon as Speaker Meira Kumar welcomed a delegation from Saudi Arabia and read out an obituary reference over the demise of former member Teklal Mahto.

Congress members started raising slogans against the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh over the killing of a farmer in police firing in Bareli town yesterday.

Carrying placards, the Congress members demanded dismissal of the BJP government in the state.

Members of BJP and AIADMK created an uproar over the alleged role of Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis deal, demanding his resignation.

Displaying copies of a newspaper which carried the report, they rushed into the Well. BJD MPs were also seen on their feet when BJP and AIADMK MPs raised the issue.

The din forced Kumar to adjourn the House for an hour till noon. When the House re-assembled, similar scenes were witnessed, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House till 12.30.

There was a repeat of uproar forcing adjournment of the House at 12.35 hours till 2 pm. In the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla rubbished the report containing allegations against a proposal for foreign investment as “factually incorrect and totally baseless”.

He said the proposal was processed in the normal course and approval by FIPB was granted in the normal course without any delay.

Referring to Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy’s allegations that under Chidambaram as Finance Minister in 2006, the FIPB sat on the Aircel-Maxis deal for several months, a media report today rejected the government’s denial made on April 28 and alleged that the Government either did not verify the facts or deliberately concealed it to save Chidambaram.

Shukla, however, again referred to April 28 press release issued by the government regarding the foreign investment made by M/s Global Communications Services Holding Ltd, Mauritius, to acquire 73.99 per cent equity in Ms Aircel Ltd.

“The contents of that statement are correct and reiterated,” he said giving the details of the application made and the approval given to it.

Shukla said that M/S Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd made another application for downstream investment on September 2, 2006 and the proposal was recommended in a meeting of FIPB on October 3 the same year.

He said then Finance Minister (Chidambaram) on October 12 approved the minutes after the same were drawn up and moved by the Deputy Secretary on October 6. Shukla said that formal letter of approval was issued to the company on October 20.

“It will be clear from the above that the proposal was processed in normal course and approval was granted in normal course without any delay. It is unfortunate that baseless allegations should continue to be made without verifying the facts,” Shukla said. Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitely, however, said it will be better members of the House are allowed to ask clarifications on the issue.

Pointing out that one minister had to resign over the “highly controversial” Aircel-Maxis deal, Jaitley said that while all this was pending the matter went to the FIPB.

“That is the very issue. Was it a normal acquisition or there is something more than what meets the eyes?,” Jaitley asked.

During the Question Hour, the Upper House witnessed uproarious scenes over the issue after Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu (Congress) took oath and the House mourned the death of former member Patitpaban Pradhan.

BJP and AIADMK members, displaying copies of an English daily which carried a report on the Home Minister’s alleged role in the telecom deal, shouted slogans demanding his resignation.

Tapan Kumar Sen (CPI-M) said he has given a notice for suspension of Question Hour to raise the issue of “US interference” in India’s internal affairs. “They are dictating our oil imports,” he said.

Chairman Hamid Ansari asked members not to display newspapers and to take their places so that Question Hour could be taken up.

“You can’t be heard,” he said, as Sitaram Yechuri (CPI-M) stood up to make a submission.

As members shouted “Chidambaram istifa do (Chidambaram resign)”, he adjourned the House for 10 minutes.

When the House re-assembled, Ansari welcomed a parliamentary delegation from Saudi Arabia seated in the special box.

Soon, BJP and AIADMK members were on their feet shouting slogans against Chidambaram and the government.

Ansari then adjourned the House till noon. -PTI

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