One of the first political reactions to former Union Minister P Chidambaram's arrest from his residence in Delhi's Jor Bagh by investigation agencies on Wednesday night came from Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya. "Howsoever mighty you may be, the law is above you," he tweeted.
Although this did not count among the young lawmaker's most controversial quotes, it assumed a fairly scathing nature in the political drama surrounding the arrest. Mr Chidambaram has occupied several prominent positions in the Union cabinet since the early nineties.
Union Minister Babul Supriyo later mocked Mr Chidambaram in a tweet for speaking on liberty during a press meet held at the Congress headquarters that evening. "Heard the Press Con @PChidambaram_IN ji held today at the @INCIndia HQ !He stressed about 'Liberty' ! Wonder if he was talking about the 'Liberty' to launder Money or evade arrest or is it the 'Liberty' to be entitled to be auto-exonerated of any wrongdoing bcoz he's from Congress!" he tweeted.
The Congress veteran had declared at the press conference that freedom can neither be attained nor protected without a struggle. "I believe that the foundation of democracy is liberty. If asked to choose between life and liberty, I would choose liberty," he said.
Mr Chidambaram was arrested a day after the Delhi High Court rejected his plea for anticipatory bail in the 2007 INX Media case, wherein he and his son Karti have been accused of receiving kickbacks from a media organisation in return for allowing them illegal access to foreign funds. He was the Finance Minister in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government at the time.
However, the former Union Minister and his son have vehemently denied the allegations. "The drama and spectacle being enacted is to simply sensationalise and satisfy the voyeuristic pleasure of some," Karti Chidambaram tweeted even as investigation agencies converged at his father's residence to arrest him on Wednesday night.
Karti Chidambaram also claimed that as no chargesheet was filed in the case despite investigation agencies raiding him four times and summoning him on 20 occasions, it was clear that his "persecutors" have no legal ground to stand on. "There is no officer who has the courage to close a file stating that there is no case, when there is no case. Never-ending investigations is the tool and method of harassment," he tweeted.
The Congress strongly backed the duo, terming it as yet another sign of democratic systems crumbling in India. "The shameless witch-hunt and unheard of abuse of CBI/ED by Modi Govt 2.0 is playing on every TV screen in India. It's a sham and shame that democracy stands dead in the hands of the BJP," tweeted party leader Randeep Surjewala shortly after Mr Chidambaram's arrest.
In his address to the press at the party office hours shortly before his arrest, Mr Chidambaram had pointed out that he wasn't named an accused in the case. However, the Union Minister said he has faith in the law "even if it is applied by an unequal hand" by investigation agencies. "Respect for the law can mean only one thing -- await (the Supreme Court's) decision on Friday... Until Friday, let's hope the lamp of liberty will shine bright," he said in what was seen as a message to the CBI and Enforcement Directorate.
Mr Chidambaram had approached the Delhi High Court for anticipatory bail yesterday, only to have Justice Sunil Gaur reject his petition.