Former finance minister P. Chidambaram has suddenly surfaced and expressed his dissent note over the ban of the book Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie by Rajiv Gandhi and also the denial of permission for the author to take part in the literary festival.
When the book was banned by Rajiv Gandhi, the newsmen asked him whether he read the book, for which he immediately replied that he had not gone through the contents of the book, but learnt from others that it contains objectionable portions and hence the decision to ban the title.
It was the first instance in Indian history, may be perhaps in the history of the world that a book was banned by one who has not gone through its contents.
P. Chidambaram was a minister of state in Rajiv’s ministry when the book was banned. He also served as an interpreter for the former prime minister and was termed as his shadow, when he was visiting the state, after the demise of (late) MGR, in his ambition to build his party base every month in the year 1988.
He served as a cabinet during both the tenures of UPA I and II for ten long years, during which period, Salman Rushdie was denied to take part in the literary festival in Jaipur. What role he played as a powerful minister in the Union Cabinet then? It was only his party which was in power in the state of Rajasthan at that time. Why P. Chidambaram has not advised the chief minister of the state to provide adequate security to the author then?
Of course he could not have been able to assure any help through the central forces as he could not protect them, as within a period of one week after he took charge as the Home Minister, nearly 75 jawans of the central and para-military forces were shot dead by a naxal group and his inability is perceptible.
When the leaders of pro-Pakistani separatist Hurriyat leaders from Kashmir conducted a meet in the capital city under his very nose, and with the blessings of the so-called intellectuals present, elaborately spoke against India and its sovereignty, in his capacity as a Home Minister he maintained his cool. When the newsmen questioned what the government propose to take action against the separatist leaders, Chidambaram quipped with his historic reply, “Our taking of no action itself is an action”.
In fact, the former ministers of Congress (I) are intelligent. Mr.Shashi Tharoor at times comes out with statements praising the Prime Minister Mr.Narendra Modi, for obvious reasons. Though the party took a serious note of his comments no disciplinary action against him was mooted against him. Similarly, in the case of Chidambaram also the party will not take any disciplinary action against him.
More than any other Congress men Mr. P. Chidambaram is a strong BJP baiter. While losing an election in the general elections to the Lok Sabha in 1999, forgetting his defeat he expressed his joy over the defeat of his BJP rival Mr.H.Raja, terming the result as a defeat to communal forces.
Mr.Chidambaram’s present statement may be an attempt to keep himself in the good books of BJP or may be an offer himself as a chief ministerial candidate as the state unit of the party is also readily elevating any new comer. Whatever may be the reason, we also cannot rule out the possiblity of Mr.Chidambaram declaring the statement made today on Satanic Verses as wrong at a later date.