Karti Chidambaram Holds On Amid CBI Onslaught, But For How Long?

Thursday’s SC order came after the Delhi High Court extended Karti Chidambaram's protection from arrest in the ED case from March 20 to March 22.

New Delhi: The arguments for and against CBI’s demand for Karti Chidambaram’s custody were now over. The special CBI Judge was writing the order in his chamber. In the courtroom a milieu of lawyers, journalists, Congress men from Tamil Nadu and CBI sleuths were all waiting and chitchatting. Also present there was Karti Chidambaram sitting about 10 feet away from his parents.

This was a welcome break, after five days of sustained custodial interrogation. Karti, like any other accused in police custody, was completely cut off from rest of the world. Mobile phones seized, no newspaper or television allowed. Only people he could talk to were the CBI sleuths. If the world had changed in those five days, he would have no means to know.

For any undertrial, either in police custody or in jail, court appearances are always special. It gives them those moments of freedom. Using this privilege, Karti requested a local journalist to read out the day’s headlines. He appeared cool as he engaged in a little banter with the journalists and the investigators.

The attempt at keeping a brave front was clear but the fear in the Chidambaram camp was visible and palpable. How long will he be able to remain strong, how many days before he breaks down?

Amidst the chatter inside the courtroom, some of those close to P Chidambaram were heard talking about the judge. They also said Karti was still being strong, still holding on but the CBI was trying to weaken him. Trying to make him say things that he doesn’t want. The CBI wants him to spill it out, so that they can reach PC.

The palpable question in the entire Chidambaram camp is how long can Karti remain strong? That he has not provided an iota of input to the Bureau is clear in the arguments put forth by the CBI in the court. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, arguing for the CBI told the court that for every question that has been asked Karti’s reply has been “I am a victim of political vendetta”.

But the sustained interrogation is not over for Karti yet. As he spends two more days in CBI custody, sources say Enforcement Directorate(ED) is getting ready. If he fails get relief from the Supreme Court in the ED case, there is a high possibility of being arrested again by ED. The remand home will change from CBI Headquarters to ED office, but the line of questioning will remain the same.

And if he breaks down, the agencies will have the prized catch. The great game now is just to wait and watch, would junior Chidambaram be able to hold on for the senior? As for the government and its investigative agency, Karti is after all is just a means to reach that “desired end”.