Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday gave a virtual clean chit to Home Minister P. Chidambaram on the controversy over his alleged help to a former client in getting rid of police cases, saying the latter’s media statement was there for all to see.
Manmohan Singh, who was returning from a three-day visit to Moscow for bilateral talks with the Russian leadership, however, said he had been unable to speak to Chidambaram on the matter yet, though he had seen the media reports on the matter.
‘His statement is there for anybody to see, and he said that he is not guilty for the type of blame that is being sought to be placed on his shoulders,’ the prime minister said during a media interaction.
He was asked about the criticism that Chidambaram is facing for allegedly advising his ministry to quash FIRs against his former client, a Delhi-based hotelier, with the Delhi Police, which is under the home ministry’s administrative control.
This is the second occasion in recent months when Chidambaram has faced trouble with the opposition gunning for him over some issue of propriety when the prime minister was out of the country on diplomatic responsibilities.
Last time, Manmohan Singh was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly meeting when a finance ministry note on the 2G spectrum allocation placed the blame for selling the national asset on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, instead of a public auction that may have brought in huge income to the government exchequer.
Then, Chidambaram spoke to the prime minister over phone and explained his position on the issue.
This time around, it is the allegations of conflict of interest in getting the FIRs against his former client, S.P. Gupta quashed that has landed Chidambaram in trouble with the opposition that disrupted parliament on Thursday and Friday demanding his sacking.
‘I became aware of this problem just as I was leaving for Moscow. I have seen the newspapers, and I have also seen the statement issued by the home minister, but I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to him,’ Singh said.