Hazare targets Chidambaram

Thane: Social activist Anna Hazare on Thursday targeted Union Home Minister P Chidambaram in the backdrop of the Madras High Court`s decision on a petition challenging his election to the Lok Sabha in 2009.

"Chidambaram could have been behind bars had the Centre constituted an independent probe into the allegations levelled against him in an election petition," he said at a press conference here.

The 2009 petition was filed by AIADMK`s Raja Kannappan, who lost to Chidambaram from Sivaganga by a narrow margin of 3,354 votes.

Kannappan had alleged Chidambaram`s election "deserved" to be declared void due to "manipulation" of votes and "corrupt practices" committed by him, his election agents and others, with his consent.

The High Court on Thursday declined to dismiss the plea. "This is just one case against him, what about the other cases?" Hazare asked. Chidambaram is among over a dozen Union Ministers against whom Team Anna has levelled graft charges.

Absence of an independent anti-corruption institution like Lokpal has given room for several leaders to go scot-free in the country, the Gandhian maintained. "Former Telecom Minister A Raja is on bail despite his alleged involvement in a Rs 1.6 lakh-crore scam," he said.

Asked if Chidambaram should quit on moral grounds, Hazare said those days are gone when we had Ministers like Lal Bahadur Shastri, who resigned following a train accident.

Asked if he would ask Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek Chidambaram`s resignation, Hazare said "who am I to demand that?" He said leaders are elected to serve the people but "they don`t account for our money". People are not aware how 75 per cent of treasury money is spent, said Hazare.