VEDANTA MUDDLEPublished by MAC on 2006-08-05
FM resignation sought
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
New Delhi, Aug 2: The Samajwadi Party, backed by TDP and AIADMK, on Wednesday asked Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to step down until the completion of a CBI inquiry into his alleged association with the Vedanta Resources, which was said to be involved in financial irregularities.
Speaking after the Rajya Sabha reassembled at 2 p.m. following a brief adjournment over the issue during the zero hour, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh said that Chidambaram should uphold the Congress tradition set by his predecessor T. T. Krishnamachari who had resigned over the Mundhra affair in 1958, the first financial scam in independent India.
He noted that Chidambaram had earlier quit as Commerce Minister in the P. V. Narasimha Rao Government in 1993 over his alleged involvement in the scam-tainted Fairgrowth Financial Services, which was reportedly involved in the multicrore Harshad Mehta scam.
Amar Singh's demand was met with protests from the treasury bench, and he could proceed only after Rehman Khan, who was in the chair, clarified that the member had been permitted to speak.
Earlier, waving copies of the book "Vedanta's Billions" written by Rohit Poddar on the functioning of the Anil Agarwal owned Vedanta Resources and Sterlite Group (which has bought Balco after a controversial deal), the Samajwadi Party members said the book contained references to Chidambaram's links with Agarwal and demanded a discussion on the matter.
Drawing attention to the rule book, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachouri rose to clarify that the matter could not be discussed under rule 38 (a), 124 and 158 under which notice has to be given to a member against whom the allegation was being made. "Prior intimation should be given to the individual or minister concerned," he said.
V. Narayanswamy and P.J. Kurien (Cong) urged the Chair to expunge Amar Singh's remarks. The Chairman said that any references to the book or any allegation made would be expunged.
Earlier, the House was adjourned during the zero hour when the members sought the resignation of Chidambaram on moral grounds.