Mobbed by cameramen and with two fingers raised in a victory salute, Subramanian Swamy stood before the Supreme Court on Thursday, flushed with the vindication of an unrelenting legal campaign aimed at the country’s most powerful politicians.
Swamy’s fight is a political one. Amid the embarrassment for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, which oversaw the sale of the licences at below-market prices, the 72-year-old eyed his next target.
“I will prove that Mr Chidambaram is a crook and his crimes,” he told a throng of reporters, cheered by the court’s order that a lower court should investigate Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram.
Swamy accuses Chidambaram of signing off on the telecoms deal when he was finance minister. Chidambaram denies wrongdoing.
Swamy has been here before. Spurred by his arguments, in February 2011 the court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to look into the 2G scam, named after the type of mobile licences involved, and last month accepted his petition that the role of the Prime Minister’s Office in the process should be examined.
His claims, which mostly centre on Italian-born Congress party President Sonia Gandhi, include allegations that Gandhi is often spirited away by “dubious Arab” businessmen to Dubai, where she is hosted by agencies of countries “hostile to India”.
Swamy is president of the Janata Party, which was born of a political uprising against former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s 1975-77 state of emergency and crushed her in elections to form the first post-independence government not led by Congress.
A trail-blazing economist with a PhD from Harvard, Swamy saw his radical policy proposals discredited by Indira Gandhi, who reportedly described him as a “Santa Claus with unrealistic ideas” and expelled him from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
Elected to parliament five times from 1974 to 1999, Swamy fled to the United States during the emergency rule, only to flout an arrest warrant against him to attend a parliamentary session in New Delhi, cementing his name in opposition folklore.
Swamy served as minister of commerce and industry in the early 1990s, and was a member of the country’s Planning Commission that would pen the blueprints for India’s economic liberalisation.
In his 2G campaign, which began with letters to Prime Minister Singh in 2008, Swamy has been supported by advocate and social activist Prashant Bhushan, who is also a key member of hunger-striking Hazare’s anti-corruption movement.
A prolific Tweeter, Swamy has close to 50,000 followers on the social media website. The undisputed king of India’s right-wing blogosphere, his rumination on the alleged mental illnesses of Rahul Gandhi, Sonia’s son and the Congress heir-apparent, spread like wildfire.
Source: Reuters India