Home South Asia India Why Chidambaram’s arrest looks political?

Why Chidambaram’s arrest looks political?

The rare action against Chidambaram has drawn opposition accusations that the authorities are pursuing a political witch-hunt as the arrest was made in years-old case right after the minister remarked in parliament that the government’s decision on Kashmir was more than sad and “in the constitutional history of India, this [August 5] will be a black day.”

Chidambaram

News Desk |

The arrest of the former Indian finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram in connection with a corruption and money laundering case has triggered a debate in political & media circles if it was a political move as he recently spoke against the revocation of Article 370 of Indian Constitution.

Congress party has accused Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government of targeting opposition leaders and termed the action of probe agencies against Chidambaram as “political vendetta”. Since the arrest, the political and media circles have speculated that it was a result of his speeches in the parliament and media talks against the government decision regarding Kashmir.

The rare action against Chidambaram, who remained finance minister between 2004-2008 and again between 2012-2014, has drawn opposition accusations that the authorities are pursuing a political witch-hunt as the arrest was made in years-old case right after Chidambaram remarked in parliament that the government’s decision on Kashmir was more than sad and “in the constitutional history of India, this [August 5] will be a black day.”

Chidambaram, 73, earlier this week failed to secure bail and had not been seen since Tuesday, until he showed up at the headquarters of the opposition Congress party on Wednesday to proclaim his innocence against the CBI’s case.

“Momentarily, you think you have scored a victory. Drum beats that you’ll hear on the streets will certainly encourage you to believe that you have scored a signal victory or as one of the honorable members said that you have corrected a so-called injustice of history,” Chidambaram said while speaking in the parliament on August 5. “You are wrong and history will prove you to be wrong and future generations will realize what a great mistake this house is making today,” he said.

While addressing the media in Parliament House on the removal of Article 370, Chidambaram said that what the government has done was unprecedented, adding that “even in our wildest dreams we did not think that they would take such a catastrophic step.”

While explaining what mistake the Indian government had made, he said: “they have not simply got rid of Article 370. They have dismembered the state of Jammu & Kashmir.”

“The idea of India as union of states is in great danger” as the government could dismember every state and break it up, he said, adding that “this is the beginning of the disintegration of India if this government continue on this path.”

Another leader of Indian National Congress, Shashi Tharoor, criticized the Indian government while sharing his views on why the Indian Constitution was under threat and how the developments were leading to re-writing the Constitution of India for a Hindu Rashtra.

In his speech, while referring to the writings of Veer Savarkar, M.S Golwalkar, who was the Sarsanghchalak of the RSS for thirty-three years between 1940-1973, all the writings of Deendayal Upadhyaya whom Modi hails as his principal ideologue, Tharoor said that they all rejected the Constitution of India.

Commenting on the writers’ two main objections – the document is full of imported Western ideals written by Anglophile lawyers in the wrong language and that the Indian Constitution is flawed because it rests on a flawed definition of what is a nation – he said that the Constitution the writers would write would not build a nation through inclusiveness but through exclusion of all who are not Hindu.

Read more: Indian Opposition parties come together to protest for Kashmir

While explaining, the Congress leader said that the Constitution assumes the nation as a territory called India and all the people living on it. The writers have declared it “wrong,” he said, adding that the say that the nation is not the territory of India; the nation is the people of India and those people are only the Hindu people and that is why they say there should be a Constitution for a Hindu Rashtra.

“This is a fundamentally different vision from the vision of Ambedkar and Nehru and Patel and all those who wrote and sanctified the constitution of India in 1950,” he said.

Ex-finance Minister Arrested in Movie-like Raid

On August 21, the federal police agents scaled the wall to arrest Chidambaram from his New Delhi home when they found the gates closed. On Wednesday, high stakes drama unfolded in New Delhi as officers from India’s equivalent of the FBI scaled the walls of a former finance minister’s home to arrest him on corruption charges.

Earlier that day, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had alerted airports to prevent Chidambaram from leaving the country. He has been charged in relation to alleged kickbacks and money laundering involving a media company when he was finance minister under former premier Manmohan Singh.

The current presidential order replaces the legislative assembly in Article 370 with the governor of Jammu and Kashmir thereby using the governor’s consent as the consent of the state.

Chidambaram, 73, earlier this week failed to secure bail and had not been seen since Tuesday, until he showed up at the headquarters of the opposition Congress party on Wednesday to proclaim his innocence against the CBI’s case. At a news conference, he called his accusers “pathological liars”.

Driving then to his home in the upscale Jor Bagh neighborhood, he was tailed by around 30 CBI officers who knocked at the doors before scaling the boundary walls, the Press Trust of India reported.

Once three CBI officers were inside, they opened the gates to allow team members to enter, while others rushed to the back door to secure all exit points. After Chidamabaram was arrested, party supporters gathered outside the home to protest. Some jumped on the car in which the politician was taken away.

What did India do?

On August 5, India’s government revoked the special status of occupied Kashmir and rushed through a presidential decree in a bid to fully integrate its only Muslim-majority region with the rest of the country, hours after imposing a major security clampdown in the region.

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah had introduced the presidential order and the bill in Parliament and through the order, India revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution thereby ending the special autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Since the law was passed, India turned Kashmir into a giant prison camp as seven million Kashmiris were barricaded in their homes, internet connections were cut and their phones went dead. The curfew and communication lockdown still continue.

Read more: India: Ex-finance minister arrested in movie-like raid

Reportedly, the bill further bifurcates the Indian occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories namely; the Union Territory of J&K and the Union Territory of Ladakh. While the Union Territory of J&K will have a legislature, the Union Territory of Ladakh will be without a legislature.

This means that there will be elections in Jammu and Kashmir but the legislature will be under the President of India who will be represented by a lieutenant governor.

Article 370

As originally envisaged, Article 370 formed the basis of Kashmir’s special and autonomous status and the article has governed the accession and relationship of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir with India under the Indian Constitution. After it was revoked, the pro-India political leaders Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah, and others said that revoking Article 370 means a break in the relationship between the state and India.

Under the article, the president of India can revoke 370 only on advice from the constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. The constituent assembly was dissolved in 1957 and replaced by the legislative assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, which was dismissed last year after the BJP-PDP [Peoples Democratic Party] alliance.

Read more: Kashmir: India’s last card? 

The current presidential order replaces the legislative assembly in Article 370 with the governor of Jammu and Kashmir thereby using the governor’s consent as the consent of the state.

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