The CBI on Wednesday arrested former Union Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram from his Jor Bagh residence following an hour long drama. P Chidambaram had been untraceable after the Delhi High Court had dismissed both his anticipatory bail pleas in connection with INX Media scam on Tuesday. Chidambaram’s legal team had also failed to get the issue listed in Supreme Court for an urgent hearing against the Delhi High Court’s order. Both, CBI and ED were on the lookout for the Congress leader.
Around 24 hours after his last sighting, P Chidambaram surfaced at the Congress Headquarters for a press conference in which he fired upon the central government and cried foul alleging ‘vendetta politics’.
With the mysterious disappearance and the investigative agencies looking out for him, P Chidambaram was expected to surrender after his resurfacing. However what followed is surely indicative of the respect and regard for law in the opposition leaders.
With the agencies scrambling to catch hold of the ‘Kingpin’, P Chidambaram and his legal team which consisted of another Congress leader Kapil Sibal were prepared to make a scene at the Jor Bagh property where they proceeded to, after the press conference. The agencies were not allowed to enter through the main doors and had to scale the boundary walls to reach the ‘Kingpin’, after which he was finally arrested. After the arrest, he could only be taken to CBI headquarters after clearing the disrupting congress elements from outside the residence.
Nonetheless, for a former Union minister and that too, of the Ministry of Home Affairs to behave with such disrespect when dealing with the agencies and the court is not only condemnable but also raises sharp questions over the prevailing thought among the top brass of the grand old party. With support of the pseudo-liberal media, Congress has been attempting to project the arrest of the former Union minister as a ‘political witch-hunt’, aimed at taking revenge against the arrest of the current home minister Amit Shah in 2010 when P Chidambaram was the home minister. They are alleging that the current Home Minister is settling scores with the former Home Minister.
However these dramatic developments are downright contrary to how Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had behaved when they were investigated under charges which were later proved to be false. Back then, Amit Shah, the then Gujarat Home Minister was being investigated in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. Sohrabuddin had a number of serious cases against him and was allegedly killed when Amit Shah was the Gujarat home minister.
Allegations were leveled against Amit Shah, purporting that he had orchestrated the encounter. Six months later, in July 2010, Amit Shah was arrested by the CBI in the Sohrabuddin encounter case and was charged with murder, extortion and kidnapping. CBI had also opposed bail in the Gujarat High Court and argued that Amit Shah might use his political influence to meddle with the case.
Three months later on October 29, 2010 Amit Shah got bail from the Gujarat High Court. The next day, when the court was closed for weekend, the CBI approached Justice Aftab Alam, who banished Amit Shah from Gujarat. Amit Shah was barred from entering Gujarat for a period of two years from 2010 to 2012, after which, he was cleared of all charges in December 2014. While facing the agencies, Amit Shah, being a minister had respected the agencies and fully co-operated with them. After following the due process of law, the court cleared him of all the charges. Narendra Modi too, as the Gujarat Chief minister was made to face investigating bodies and had taken part in lengthy questioning sessions without making a mockery out of the legal proceedings. Despite being a Chief Minister of Gujarat at that point of time, he had confidently and humbly faced the agencies.
This contrasting behavior of political leaders from two parties indicates their respect for the due process of law, and is sure to churn discussions over the conduct of powerful personalities when facing the judicial system. On one hand, we see how position was misused to create drama and spread misinformation and on the other hand, even the senior most leaders of a party had constructively cooperated with the agencies despite the charges against them turning out to be false.