New Delhi: Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram, who was arrested in connection with the INX Media case, appears sunk neck-deep in corruption. In the coming times, his difficulties can only increase.
The INX Media case is just the beginning. The biggest case against him is the scam in the purchase of aeroplanes worth Rs 70,000 crore from Air India and Indian Airlines. The deal was cleared by a group of ministers headed by him.
Chidambaram is facing an investigation in six major cases against him. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has already issued a notice to Chidambaram for questioning on 23 August in the much-talked-about plane scam in the Manmohan Singh government.
Chidambaram in Air India scam
Under the Manmohan Singh government, when Praful Patel was the aviation minister from the NCP quota in the UPA, this alleged scam had taken place. The CAG had disclosed it in its report dated 2011. The ED is investigating this matter.
Aviation minister Praful Patel, who was caught in the scam, had claimed that the aircraft deal was cleared by an empowered group of ministers (EGOM) headed by P Chidambaram. After this, the investigating agency turned its attention to Chidambaram. The case relates to the purchase of 43 aircraft and 68 Boeing between 2005 and 2007.
The condition of the government-run airlines was already bad. In such a situation, the purchase of 111 aircraft put an extra burden of Rs 70,000 crore on its finances. Since the day of the revelation by CAG, the CBI and ED are investigating the case.
The CBI has arrested Deepak Talwar, a lobbyist in this case. In May 2017, the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to file an FIR to investigate the plane scam.
Chidambaram in Aircel-Maxis deal
P Chidambaram is accused also of engineering a scam in the Aircel-Maxis investment case while he was the finance minister. This is a case related to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
According to the investigating agencies, investment of Rs 180 crore was allowed in Aircel Maxis. As the then finance minister, Chidambaram could have allowed investment of up to Rs 600 crore at his level, but he misused the position and approved FDI of Rs 3,500 crore in the Aircel-Maxis deal. Whereas this amount could be cleared only at the level of the Cabinet committee. It is alleged that Chidambaram gave the green signal to benefit his son Karti.
Chidambaram in INX Media case
Chidambaram is accused of taking a bribe for an illegal sanction from the FIPB in the INX Media case. Here, until yesterday, Chidambaram had been spared arrest more than 20 times, but this time he did not get any relief from the court.
The case dates back to 2007 when Chidambaram was the finance minister in the UPA 2 government. At that time, INX Media group had acquired foreign funds of Rs 305 crore.
A case of black money is going on against Chidambaram and family. However, in November last year, the Madras High Court revoked the approval of the Income Tax Department to prosecute Chidambaram, his wife Nalini, son Karti and daughter-in-law Srinidhi Karti under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Property) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015. The matter is currently pending in the Supreme Court.
Manipulation of records to trap Shah
When Chidambaram was the Home Minister in the Manmohan Singh government, he allegedly tampered with an affidavit related to the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. There are allegations of tampering the documents and implicating the then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah. The matter is currently pending with the Delhi Police.
Usurping a hotel
There is also a case where Chidambaram used his clout as a Union minister to capture a hotel in the name of one of his relatives in Tamil Nadu. It is alleged that the relative grabbed the hotel with the connivance of Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) officials. There is a complaint against Chidambaram in this case too.
Bengal-based chit fund scam
In September 2014, Chidambaram’s wife Nalini drew the attention of the CBI for her alleged involvement in the Saradha chit fund scandal. the Ponzi group head Sudipta Sen had sent an 18-page letter to the CBI. The letter mentioned N Chidambaram’s name. Hence the raid!
Among a litany of allegations made in Sen’s letter, an issue raised was that of the purchase of NE TV. Indian National Congress leader Matang Singh — who was also the coal minister in the PV Narasimha Rao government — and his estranged wife Manoranjana Singh had signed a deal with Sen. N Chidambaram had played the role of a mediator in helping that contract materialise, says the letter.