Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said nobody, howsoever important, would be spared if found guilty in the Aircel-Maxis deal, denying allegations that the government was going slow in the probe.
“No one will be spared. We have no holy cows to protect. The government is going to the root of each case that’s been mentioned,” he told Lok Sabha, in response to a discussion that saw the BJD and AIADMK team up with the BJP to target ex-finance minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti over their alleged involvement in the deal.
Jaitley said the Enforcement Directorate and the I-T department had recovered “incriminating” documents during raids, which were being scrutinised.
Earlier, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan allowed the discussion by overruling the objections of the Congress and Trinamool Congress. The Trinamool’s Saugata Roy cited the rule book to argue that debate could not be allowed if it refers to the conduct or character of persons except in their public capacity, or on a subject under adjudication by a court of law.
Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu, however, said Parliament had discussed matters related to Ayodhya and Gujarat several times despite their being sub-judice.
Starting the discussion, the BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab said the Supreme Court was monitoring the Aircel-Maxis deal as part of the 2G spectrum scam since 2011. The CBI’s earlier stand was that the then telecom minister (Dayanidhi Maran of the DMK) had arm-twisted the promoter of Aircel into selling a 74% stake to Malaysian company Maxis. “But in April 2012, it was exposed that FIPB clearance to Maxis was a violation by the then finance minister (P Chidambaram) in 2006. The deal was worth more than R4,000 crore, and as the Foreign Investment Promotion Board chairman, the then finance minister only had the power to approve deals worth R600 crore. He ought to have got CCEA clearance but did not take up the matter with the CCEA,” said Mahtab.
The money laundering trail in the deal has spread to 14 countries, including the British Virgin Islands, he added.
The AIADMK’s TJ Venkatesh also raised allegations against Chidambaram and his son while both he and Mahtab alleged the probe was going slow.
Responding to Congress allegations about “match-fixing” between the BJD and BJP on the issue, Mahtab countered, “Why has no FIR been lodged? Why has no charge sheet been filed? Are the BJP and Congress doing the match-fixing in this case?”
The issue reverberated in Rajya Sabha too with AIADMK members shouting slogans against Chidambaram, prompting Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad to say the government had “engineered these protests” to force the postponement of a calling attention motion brought by opposition parties over allegedly inflammatory speeches by BJP leaders.
Responding to the AIADMK’s allegations, Karti had earlier said, “One newspaper has made allegations against me, which have been adequately refuted in the past. Myself and my business are fully compliant with all laws and regulations.”
When contacted, Chidambaram refused to comment.