In 2010, when P Chidambaram was the home minister, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested and sent to jail BJP leader Amit Shah in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.
Now, the 73-year-old Chidambaram is facing the toughest crisis of his career with Amit Shah as the home minister of India. The lawyer-turned-politician has been slapped with money laundering and corruption charges in the INX Media case and is in the CBI custody following the Delhi High Court's refusal to grant him anticipatory bail on Tuesday.
Major cases against Chidambaram:
INX Media Case
The case in which the former finance minister has been arrested involves alleged kickbacks received by his son Karti Chidambaram in exchange for allowing INX Media, a television company, to receive Rs 305 crore as foreign funds in the year of 2007. Delhi High Court's Justice Sunil Gaur said that his being a Member of Parliament doesn't affect the case. He has been questioned many times in relation to this case. ED argued that the companies where money was transferred to were controlled by his son Karti.
In the INX Media case, the CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance.
Aircel Maxis Deal
The case pertains to alleged irregularities while granting of FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal. The father-son are suspect in this case as well. Both the CBI and ED are probing the case from different angles. The CBI is examining how Chidambaram, while he was finance minister in 2006, granted FIPB approval to a foreign firm, while the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was only allowed or empowered to do it. The Enforcement Directorate is probing money laundering in the Aircel-Maxis case. In the case, the Chidambarams have been grilled by the agency. Their anticipatory bail is pending.
The Aircel-Maxis deal is worth Rs 3,500 crore.
Air India Purchase
If Aircel-Maxis deal and INX Media deals weren't enough, Chidambaram is also embroiled in the Air India purchase case. The ED has summoned him for questioning on August 23. The case pertains to alleged wrongdoing in the purchase of 111 aircraft for Air India when he was finance minister in the UPA government.
As many as 42 Airbus and 24 Boeing aircraft were slated to be purchased but had ended up in the purchase of 111 aircraft. Chidambaram will be questioned to explain the jump in a number of purchase. Chidambaram chaired the empowered group of ministers which finalised the decision to purchase the aircrafts in 2009. According to the FIR, private entities were favoured.
The rise of Chidambaram
Chidambaram, who has a degree in law and an MBA from Harvard Business School, joined the Congress in 1984 and contested and won Lok Sabha elections from Sivaganga around the same time. He had been associated with several ministries including that of commerce and industry, mostly as junior minister till mid-1990s. In 1996, Chidambaram quit the Congress for a brief period to join Tamil Maanila Congress - a breakaway faction of the state Congress unit.
He made his mark as finance minister in 1997 when he presented the "dream Budget" under then Prime Minister Deve Gowda, who was leading a fragile United Front government at that time.
Despite being part of a weak coalition government, Chidambaram introduced bold reforms including drastic reduction of personal and corporate tax rates in the 1997 Budget. Soon after, he rejoined the Congress.
His spectacular rise in politics started only in 2004. He was given the important portfolio of finance in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government. As Finance Minister, he had to deal with the Left parties, which provided outside support to the government and many of his proposals, aimed at expanding private sector participation to boost growth of the Indian economy, did not see the light of day.
However, he played an important role in introducing the Value Added Tax (VAT) while notifying in the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBMA). However, he is remembered most for designing and implementing the Rs 70,000 crore farm debt waiver scheme, which many believe, went a long way in the helping the UPA retain power in the subsequent 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
While economists and policy makers criticised this move, he managed to impress the top echelon of the Congress party. In November 2008, Chidambaram—already touted as an achiever by his party men—was entrusted with home ministry.
Chidambaram was caught in the middle of a controversy when news reports suggested that he had manipulated the voting process to win the 2009 Lok Sabha election from Sivaganga. AIADMK candidate Raja Kannappan was declared elected by over 3,500 votes initially on May 16, 2009 but within hours Chidambaram's fate turned, and he was declared elected by 3,354 votes.
As home minister, he had a tougher job at hand. His tenure was laced with criticism, especially on issues relating to security. In 2011, when he was in charge of the Home Ministry, three co-ordinated bomb explosions ripped Mumbai killing many. These blasts took place barely three years after the horrific terror attacks in two of Mumbai's premier hotels.
Not just that, Chidambaram was seen by many - including those from his own party - as a man who was arrogant, head-strong and he often remained incommunicado. He had also been assaulted by a Sikh journalist in April 2009 for giving a "clean chit" to Jagdish Tytler.
In August 2012 Chidambaram was removed from the Home Ministry, and he once again resumed charge as finance minister. He is also often blamed for forcing the public sector banks to expand their credit portfolio in a reckless manner—something that has led to the alarming rise in the non performing asset levels in the government banks.