Shot in arm for Cong, BJP flexes muscles for Round 2
The special CBI court's verdict dismissing the petition to make home minister P Chidambaram a co-accused in the 2G spectrum allocation scam has come as a huge relief to the Congress-led UPA government.
"It's a relief for the government. Someone was being unnecessarily prosecuted," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said.
While the Congress cheered the verdict, the BJP - which had led a high-pitch campaign against Chidambaram in Parliament - said the order was not final.
"This judgment has come from a lower court. There are several instances where upper courts have overturned the lower court's verdict," BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said, adding that his party will continue to target the home minister.
Buoyed by the verdict, the Congress slammed the BJP for its anti-Chidambaram campaign.
"Opposition, especially the BJP, owe the nation an apology for the campaign they carried out over the past one year," party spokesman Manish Tewari said.
"Political parties, especially the BJP, owe an apology to the nation for the campaign," party spokesman Manish Tewari said.
Within the government and the ruling party, the verdict has strengthened Chidambaram's position given that a 2011 finance ministry's controversial note, blaming him for not doing enough to prevent the 2G scam, had caused friction between Mukherjee and the home minister. Mukherjee finally settled the matter by distancing himself from the note.
Subramanian Swamy, who was the petitioner in the case, has already stated that he would pursue the matter in the Supreme Court.
Minutes after the verdict, Mukherjee, joined by Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Ambika Soni, came out in support of Chidambaram and ridiculed Swamy.
"We all know Swamy for years. He will go to the high court and Supreme Court...he will appeal to God," Sibal said.
The verdict marks the end of a disastrous week for the government in the courts with the Supreme Court canceling all the 122 licences allocated by the then telecom minister A Raja and then slamming the Centre for its poor handling of the army chief's age controversy.