Former Indian finance minister Chidambaram granted bail

Former Union minister P Chidambaram at the press conference Thursday

Former Union minister P Chidambaram at the press conference Thursday

On Wednesday, India's Supreme Court ordered Chidambaram released in the case involving alleged bribery and money laundering benefiting his son's company when he was the finance minister in 2006.

"I believe that the Congress and some other parties are better equipped to pull the economy out of the slowdown and push economic growth, but we have to wait for better times", Chidambaram said at a press conference in the national capital. He said, "The government is wrong". "The government is clueless on the economy, it is stubborn and mulish in defending catastrophic mistakes like demonetisation, flawed GST, tax terrorism", said the former Union minister. "The net result, as the Economist put it, is that the government has turned out to be an "incompetent manager" of the economy". Speaking to reporters, Chidambaram said, "I am happy that Supreme Court has passed an order granting bail and I am happy that I have stepped out and breathing the air of freedom after 106 days".

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Asked about industrialist Rahul Bajaj telling Union Home Minister Amit Shah that people were scared to criticise the government, he said the businessman was tall enough to make those remarks at a meeting but there was "complete fear everywhere and the media is no exception".

While in jail, Chidambaram was visited by the top Congress brass, including Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and his sister and party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. "It is "structural" and the government has no solutions or reforms that would address the structural problems", he said. "Media also gripped with fear".

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"But the fact is in the 106 days of pre-trail incarceration not a single charge was framed against me. But if the finance minister says I don't eat onions, that shows the mindset of this government", he said.

As Chidambaram walked out of the Tihar jail on Wednesday, he had received a rapturous welcome by scores of Congress supporters. Later that year, the ED also lodged a money laundering case against him.

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Chidambaram was arrested on August 21 from his residence by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with a probe into granting of the Foreign Exchange Promotion Board (FIPB) approval to the INX Media, now known as 9X News, when he was Finance Minister.

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