‘Chidambaram and I have had differences’
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.