- P Chidambaram is an extremely qualified and respected leader: Congress
- We stand by his quest for truth no matter what, the party asserted
- Rahul Gandhi alleges attempt to "character assassinate Mr Chidambaram"
The Congress today rallied behind its senior leader and former Union Minister P Chidambaram, who is wanted by two investigative agencies in a corruption case. A lookout notice was issued this morning against the former minister as CBI and the Enforcement Directorate failed to locate him since last evening. While Rahul Gandhi called it a "disgraceful misuse of power", his sister Priyanka Gandhi said the former minister was being "shamefully hunted down".
Yesterday, the Delhi High Court refused to provide Mr Chidambaram any further protection from arrest, saying "magnitude and enormity" of material produced by the investigating agencies "dis-entitles him from any pre-arrest bail".
Within hours, teams of the CBI and the ED made a beeline for his residence. Failing to find him there, some of them camped out there overnight.
This morning, as the news came of the lookout notice, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi, protested vehemently against the move of the government. A tweet from the party's official handle read:
A govt that persecutes its citizens for speaking truth to power is only reiterating its own cowardly nature. @PChidambaram_IN is an extremely qualified & respected leader, he has served this nation with dedication & humility. We stand by his quest for truth no matter what.— Congress (@INCIndia) August 21, 2019
"Modi's Govt is using the ED, CBI & sections of a spineless media to character assassinate Mr Chidambaram. I strongly condemn this disgraceful misuse of power," Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
His sister Priyanka Gandhi tweeted: "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 & 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," Priyanka Gandhi tweeted.
The BJP, though, has kept largely silent on the issue. This morning, party leader Amit Malviya took a dig at the Congress, saying, "Priyanka stood by Vadra, backing Chidambaram is natural".
Mr Chidambaram has been accused of facilitating a huge infusion of foreign funds into a television company, INX Media, in 2007 on the behest of his son Karti Chidambaram, who allegedly received kickbacks for this. At the time, he was the country's finance minister in the UPA government.
Mr Chidambaram has denied the allegations, saying it was politically motivated.