The Madras high court on Thursday refused to dismiss a case against union home minister P Chidambaram for allegedly manipulating elections in his Lok Sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu, prompting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the AIADMK to demand his immediate resignation.
In a setback for the minister, the Madurai bench of the Madras high court declined to dismiss the petition challenging his election in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections but struck down two malpractice charges against him.
Holding that Chidambaram has to face the election petition filed by AIADMK's Raja Kannappan, one of those who lost from the Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency, the high court, however, struck down two of the 29 charges - use of bank officials and banks to induce voters.
The court said he would have to face the remaining 27 charges and appear before the court when required to do so. It also asked the minister to give full cooperation during the trial.
Chidambaram had sought the dismissal of Kannappan's petition and also an exemption from personal appearance.
Chidambaram was elected to the Lok Sabha from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu by a slender majority of 3,354 votes against Kannappan in 2009. Accusing the minister's supporters of manipulating the votes, Kannapan approached the court.
The court's ruling saw Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK and the BJP ask Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to immediately oust him.
AIADMK general secretary and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa said the Prime minister should drop Chidambaram from his cabinet if he did not resign on his own.
Stating that Chidambaram had won the elections in a fraudulent manner, she said: "As he has to face the criminal case now it will be blot on the country's democracy if he continues in office. Hence Chidambaram without any further delay should resign."
The BJP was in complete agreement.
"We appeal to the prime minister to throw him out of the cabinet immediately," BJP president Nitin Gadkari told reporters in New Delhi.
"After manipulating the results of the Lok Sabha polls, and being attached to corruption cases one after the other, I want to ask what more evidence does the prime minister need against him," he said.
Accusing Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for supporting Chidambaram's "corruption", Gadkari said: "If he is not ousted, it means Congress supports his corruption and the wrong means adapted by him to come to the Lok Sabha."
The BJP president added that the home minister was also responsible for the 2G spectrum scam and his role needed to be probed.
He added that the minister had lost the moral ground to remain in his post.