Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday stood up for home minister P Chidambaram, who is facing criticism from the opposition, saying he derived "immense" support from his colleague's "enlightened leadership".
"Since 2004 (the year Singh became PM), I have been deriving immense support from his enlightened leadership - (first when was) finance minister and then home minister. Whatever task is given to him, he performs it with super aplomb," Singh said at a function at Alagappa University in Chidambaram's Sivaganga constituency.
Chidambaram, who was in the audience when the Prime Minister spoke, has been under opposition attack over his alleged role in the 2G spectrum allocation scam and the charge of misuse of office in helping a Delhi-based hotelier.
"He and I have been colleagues since the 1990s. I worked as finance minister when he was commerce minister," the PM said.
Gunning for his resignation, the principal opposition BJP has been boycotting Chidambaram in Parliament.
The UPA government, led by the Congress, has rallied behind Chidambaram, rejecting the opposition charges and calls for his resignation.
Ramanujan birth anniversary
In Chennai, speaking at a Madras University function to mark the 124th birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan, who was born on December 22, 1887, Singh said the 125th year of the eminent mathematician would be celebrated as National Mathematical Year.
The Prime Minister regretted the country could not produce many eminent mathematicians since Ramanujan because of the wrong perception that "pursuit of mathematics does not lead to attractive career opportunities".
However, he said "since Ramanujan, a number of mathematicians from the country have distinguished themselves at very high levels".
However, "for a country of our size, the number of competent mathematicians that we have is (barely) adequate", he said.