Veteran Congress leader and senior advocate P Chidambaram had to face protests from lawyers and party supporters at the Calcutta High Court today, when he defended a move by the Bengal government. The case in question was initiated by state Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury, who challenged the Trinamool Congress government’s sale of Metro Dairy shares to agro-processing firm Keventer.
The protesters — lawyers who claimed to support the Congress — accused Mr Chidambaram of “toying with the sentiments of the party”.
Videos from the spot showed lawyers following Mr Chidambaram, berating “leadership like this that is responsible” for the Congress’s downward spiral. “Chidambaram go back” slogans were also heard.
Adhir Chowdhury — whose bitter political rivalry with Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee is known — had filed a petition before the court, seeking an investigation into the sale, which he alleged was done at a “throwaway price”. Mr Chidambaram was representing the private firm.
Mr Chowdhury’s lawyer Bikash Bhattacharya claimed the sale was adversely affecting the interests of the state. Keventer, he said, has already sold a part of the shares to a Singapore-based company at a much higher price.
“It’s a free country. I have no comments. Why should I comment on this?” an amused Mr Chidambaram had told PTI.
Adhir Chowdhury said the protest was a “natural reaction” of Congress supporters.
He, however, admitted to Mr Chidambaram’s right as a lawyer to represent any client. “It is a professional world. It depends on the person… nobody can dictate to him or her,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.