The monsoon session of Parliament begins today and the spotlight is on P Chidambaram. For the UPA, he is the poster boy of positive change as it attempts to signal an end to its "policy paralysis" by handing the reins of the crucial Finance Ministry over to a man seen as reform-oriented and industry and market friendly. The Opposition says nothing has changed really, he will be targeted.
Mr Chidambaram has been shouted down every time he has risen to speak as Home Minister for quite a few Parliament sessions now. The Opposition parties have demanded that he resign for what they allege that he is guilty of dereliction of duty because the 2G spectrum scam, believed to be India's largest swindle, unfolded on his watch in 2008. Then telecom minister A Raja allegedly accepted huge kickbacks from companies who jumped to the head of a long queue for licenses for mobile networks. Mr Chidambaram did not intervene, says the BJP.
Not only has Mr Chidambaram not quit, he is back as Finance Minister, and has also been appointed head of a group of ministers who helped decide what sort of prices 2G licenses should be auctioned at - the base price has been set by the cabinet at 14,000 cores - ten times the rate that was used in 2008 when Mr Raja was in charge. The protests in Parliament are expected to get louder this session.
The new Finanace Minister would be acutely aware of that. He reached out to the Opposition last night, meeting senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Arun Jaitley in what has been described as a "courtesy call."
The BJP-led opposition has made clear that not only will the 2G allegations be kept alive, its anti-Chidambaram ammunition for this session also includes the Aircel Maxis deal. The minister has been accused by Janta Party president Subramanian Swamy of misusing his office to delay the sale of telecom Aircel to a company from Malaysia named Maxis. Mr Swamy alleges that the delay helped Mr Chidambaran's son to invest in Aircel and benefit financially from its eventual purchase by Maxis.