The letter written last March was a straightforward fact-sheet regarding the decision-making process leading up to the sanction of the 2-G licences to 121 different parties by then Telecom Minister A Raja.
The chronology of ministerial meetings and exchange of notes between various ministers and officials contained a bombshell. It confirmed that Chidambaram, who was then Finance Minister in the UPA-I Government, had inexplicably dropped his opposition to the first-come principle for allotment of cellular licences though all along he had insisted that these be auctioned to the highest bidder.
In his note, Chidambaram said that the auction route be followed in all future allotment of cellular phone licences. Equally significantly, the letter to the PMO noted that it had been seen by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Even when he was in a position to stop Raja, critics said, Chidambaram failed to do the needful. Under the rules, the Finance Minister's approval was necessary before the Telecom Minister can allocate cellular phone licences.
This has caused the political circles and the media to go to town with stories about the growing rift between Mukherjee and Chidambaram, virtually the number two and three in the Government.
A few months ago, Mukherjee suspected that his office was 'bugged'. Intriguingly, instead of asking the Home Minister to remove the bugging devices, he had relied on a private agency. There in lies the tale of murky politics that the UPA government has been subsumed.
Inevitably, the matter reached Sonia Gandhi upon her return from the US, purportedly after undergoing a serious surgical procedure (though there are sceptics that the whole matter is shrouded in secrecy. Like errant children, first Chidambaram and then Mukherhee took their complaints to Sonia.
What transpired in those meetings and her reaction were not disclosed. This is very typical of this administration. Also, why should an ex-officio member been seen as arbitrating in a matter of national importance? She is a player, how can she be a Third Umpire?
Usually, only scapegoats are proceeded against, with the masterminds escaping. So slack is the CBI that it routinely loses legal cases against influential people,most recently against Abu Salem, who is wanted in India for terror offenses.
A court in Portugal threw out the CBI’s case a few days ago, because of legal technicalities that seem to have been deliberately planted so as to ensure that Salem escape. At the time of writing, the order of the apex court is still pending.
Whatever the decision, Chidambaram's reputation has suffered a major blow, almost making his continuation in office untenable. The Prime Minister too is either unable or unwilling to stand up for principles that he believes in, such as integrity. True, neither he nor his family members have made any money out of government decisions, but can this excuse the fact that he has allowed several scams to take place under his watch?