‘Chidambaram and I have had dif­fer­ences’

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - - Nation - P Suchetana Ray let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEWDELHI: For­mer pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee ac­knowl­edged on Tuesday that he had had “dif­fer­ences” with his for­mer party col­league P Chidambaram.

“It is not that he and I al­ways agreed, but the beauty of democ­racy is that it has space for ev­ery­one’s views,” said Mukher­jee at the launch of Chidambaram’s book, “Speak­ing Truth to Power”.

Both Mukher­jee and Chidambaram have held the po­si­tion of Union fi­nance min­is­ter at var­i­ous junc­tures in their ca­reers.

In 2004, when the first United Pro­gres­sive Al­liance govern­ment came to power, Chidambaram was the fi­nance min­is­ter. Mukher­jee took over the post from Chidambaram in 2008, when in the aftermath of the Mum­bai ter­ror at­tacks, he was shifted to the home min­istry. Again in 2012, when Mukher­jee went to Rash­tra­p­ati Bhawan, it was Chidambaram who re­sumed his old po­si­tion.

Two days be­fore the bud­get ses­sion re­sumes af­ter a short break, Mukher­jee also con­demned the tac­tic of Par­lia­ment dis­rup­tion, call­ing it the big­gest “be­trayal of com­mit­ment to the peo­ple of this coun­try”’.

He con­grat­u­lated Chidambaram for do­ing the job of the Op­po­si­tion of “speak­ing truth to power” but con­demned dis­rup­tions as that “in one way or the other sup­ported the govern­ment in giv­ing it a help­ing hand” by not al­low­ing de­bate in Par­lia­ment.

Chidambaram in his speech urged ci­ti­zens to speak truth to power to up­hold the legacy of the coun­try’s found­ing fa­thers.

“There’s fear, there’s po­lar­i­sa­tion, there’s in­tol­er­ance of dis­sent, there’s ide­o­log­i­cal pro­fil­ing...There’s a spec­tre of an Or­wellian state,” said Chidambaram. “The path to ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ (de­vel­op­ment for all) is frayed with au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism, uni­for­mity and im­plicit obe­di­ence to the will of the rulers”.

The for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter also warned of a slow­ing econ­omy, say­ing that it would lead to “fewer jobs, re­trench­ments, fewer peo­ple lifted out of poverty”. “So ‘ache din’ is not round the cor­ner,” Chidambaram said.

A day af­ter Pres­i­dent Ram Nath Kovind pitched for si­mul­ta­ne­ous Lok Sabha and state Assem­bly elec­tions, Chidambaram termed it as yet an­other “jumla” (trick) by the Modi govern­ment, say­ing it can­not be done un­der the cur­rent con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sions.

Pres­i­dent Kovind had, in his maiden ad­dress to the joint sit­ting of the two houses of Par­lia­ment on Mon­day, made a strong pitch for si­mul­ta­ne­ous elec­tions to the Lok Sabha and state As­sem­blies, and called for con­sen­sus among po­lit­i­cal par­ties on the is­sue.


For­mer pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee shakes hands with for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter P Chidambaram in New Delhi on Tuesday.

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