Alleged anti-north India remark by Chidambaram draws flak


New Delhi : Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s alleged anti-north and east India remark to the US ambassador exposed by WikiLeaks triggered a sharp attack Friday from opposition MPs, who demanded his ouster.

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According to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, Chidambaram told US Ambassador Timothy Roemer that India would have registered higher growth rates “if it were the south and west only”, because “the rest of the country held it back”.

The observations, first published by The Hindu, were made when Roemer made an introductory call on the home minister after arriving in 2009 as successor to ambassador David Mulford.

And predictably, political parties from north India took strong objections to the alleged remark. The Samajwadi Party (SP) said the remark was “against national unity”.

Members protested in both houses of parliament.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav raised the issue in the Lok Sabha.

He said, “Chidambaram is in the home ministry and despite that he has made comments against the national unity. More seriously, he said this to a foreign ambassador. This is shameful.”

Chidambaram was not present in the house and other MPs from the Samajwadi Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Janata Dal-United and the Rashtriya Janata Dal demanded that the home minister should come to the house and clear his position and apologise.

Some MPs were heard shouting “Grah mantri ko hata do, hata do” (Remove the home minister).

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar tried to pacify the MPs but they instead walked near her podium and started shouting slogans.

Meira Kumar adjourned the house for about 45 minutes.

Protests revisited when the house re-assembled after the adjournment.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal sought to cool the tempers saying, “Let WikiLeaks not leak the country.”

But, agitated MPs continued shouting slogans against Chidambaram like “Chidambaram, hosh main aao, hosh main aao, hosh main aao” (come to your senses) and “desh ko mat todo, mat todo” (don’t divide nation).

In the Rajya Sabha, Samajwadi Party member Ram Gopal Yadav raised the issue, saying Chidambaram’s comments were an “insult” to the nation.

“It endangers national integrity,” he said.

Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned sine die, bringing the curtain down on the curtailed budget session.