A day after being granted bail in the INX Media money laundering case registered by ED, Congress leader P Chidambaram on Thursday said his “record as a minister and his conscience are absolutely clear”.
Addressing the first press conference post walking out of Tihar jail after 106 days on Wednesday evening, Chidambaram said that “the officers who have worked with him, business persons who have interacted with him and journalists who have observed him know the fact very well”.
Chidambaram’s first attack on the Government was over the issue of economic slowdown, saying, “We will be lucky to end the year if growth touches 5 per cent”.
The Congress leader also reminded former Chief Economic Adviser Dr Arvind Subramanian’s caution that 5 per cent under this government, because of suspect methodology, is not really 5 per cent but less by about 1.5 per cent.
Chidambaram said the problem lies in the Government’s assumption that problems faced by the economy are cyclical.
“The government is wrong. It is unable to look for the obvious clues because it is stubborn and mulish in defending its catastrophic mistakes like demonetisation, flawed GST, tax terrorism, regulatory overkill, protectionism, and centralized control of decision-making in the PMO,” the former Finance Minister said.
He then targeted Narendra Modi saying that the Prime Minister has been “unusually silent” on the economy.
“He (PM Modi) has left it to his ministers to indulge in bluff and bluster. The net result, as the Economists put it, is that the government has turned out to be an ‘incompetent manager’ of the economy,” Chidambaram said while addressing the media.
Speaking further, the former Finance Minister said that his first thoughts and prayers after he stepped out of the jail, were for the 75 lakh people of the Kashmir Valley “who have been denied their basic freedoms since August 4”.
Chidambaram also expressed his concern about the political leaders in Kashmir “who have been detained without charges”.
“Freedom is indivisible, if we must preserve our freedom, we must fight for their freedom,” he said.
Congress leader P Chidambaram also got emotional while answering questions on rapes and lynchings.
Earlier in the day, Chidambaram was present in the Rajya Sabha, where he took a jibe at Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement that she doesn’t hail from an “onion-eating” family during a debate on onion prices in the Lower House on Wednesday.
“What does the finance minister mean when she says she does not eat onions? Does she eat avocados?” he asked.
Meanwhile, P Chidambaram also joined a protest by Congress leaders in Parliament premises over onion prices.
Leaders of the Congress Party protest outside Parliament against rising inflation & soaring prices & the arrogant, insensitive comments by the FM @nsitharaman#SayItLikeNirmalaTai pic.twitter.com/49jysPLPbM
— Congress (@INCIndia) December 5, 2019
Granting him bail on Wednesday, the top court said that Chidambaram should not tamper with the evidence and not influence the witnesses. The court further ordered him not to give press interviews or make public statements in connection with the case.
The Supreme Court also directed P Chidambaram to furnish a bail bond of Rs 2 lakhs along with two sureties of the same amount. Chidambaram has also been ordered not to travel abroad without the court’s permission.
74-year-old Chidambaram was first arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 21 in the INX Media corruption case and was granted bail by the Supreme Court on October 22. His arrest came after the Delhi High Court rejected his pre-arrest bail. He was in between arrested by the ED in the money laundering case on October 16.