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Posted at: Aug 23, 2019, 6:44 AM; last updated: Aug 23, 2019, 6:44 AM (IST)

Life comes a full circle for PC

All in 9 yrs — surfaced at press conference before arrest, like Shah
Life comes a full circle for PC

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22

It seems life has come a full circle for former Finance Minister P Chidambaram. Back in June 2010, when the Congress-led UPA-II was in power at the Centre, investigating agency CBI claimed then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah was evading arrest in the encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh — a wanted criminal with several pending cases when he was allegedly killed in police custody in 2005.

After lying low, Shah made a dramatic entry at the BJP headquarters for a press conference where he claimed “innocence and political vendetta against him”. He slammed the Congress and CBI, calling all charges against him “fabricated and politically-motivated”.

He was arrested and taken to the residence of the CBI judge, who remanded him in judicial custody for 13 days. Earlier, he had submitted his resignation as the Home Minister from the Cabinet of the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi.

Chidambaram was the Union Home Minister when the CBI arrested Shah.

Now, the Modi government 2.0 is in power at the Centre and the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are investigating alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s clearances granted under him as the Finance Minister to INX Media and seeking his custody.

After lying low following rejection of his anticipatory bail plea by the Delhi High Court, Chidambaram made a dramatic entry at the Congress headquarters late last evening, claiming “innocence and political vendetta against him”.

Following a dramatic turn of events, he was taken into custody. Ironically, Shah is the Union Home Minister.

The Congress called the CBI move against Chidambaram, one of the most powerful ministers during the 10-year UPA rule with portfolios like Home and Finance, as “political vendetta” — the charge the BJP levelled against the Manmohan Singh government when Shah was being investigated in the encounter case.

On directions of the Supreme Court, the case was transferred to the CBI in January 2010. In July 2010, Shah was arrested on charges of murder, extortion and kidnapping.

When he sought bail, the CBI opposed the move in the Gujarat High Court arguing he could use political influence to tamper with evidence and threaten witnesses. Three months later, Shah was granted bail but was banished from Gujarat, the state where he was the Home Minister, for two years.

It is said Shah used these two years gainfully, understanding the BJP and RSS at the national level, who stood where. He travelled across the country and Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP registered huge gains in 2014, understanding its politics, caste-combinations, paving the way for his and Modi’s emergence in the national politics.

During the time when Parliament would be in session, he was often seen in the office of Arun Jaitley, the then Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. “He (Shah) had few friends in the party, even the media avoided him because of image the Congress had built around him. Though the BJP declared that Shah was innocent and was being harassed to hit back at it, the fact is he did not have many people he could turn up to in those days,” says a political observer.

Shah was cleared of all charges after the BJP rode to power on the ‘NaMo wave’ in 2014.

Incidentally, the CBI and the ED do not come under the purview of the Home Ministry. The CBI is under the PM while the ED is under the Finance Ministry.

Uncanny similarities

  • In 2010, Chidambaram was the Union Home Minister when the CBI arrested then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah in Sohrabuddin encounter case. Now, Shah is the Home Minister
  • The BJP had cried ‘vendetta’ when Shah was arrested during the Manmohan Singh government. Now, the Congress has levelled the same charge on PC's arrest by CBI in INX Media case

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