New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) Home Minister P. Chidambaram's alleged remark to the US envoy that India's high growth rate was due to 'south and west' regions and the 'rest of the country was holding it back' sparked a sharp attack Friday from opposition MPs who demanded his ouster.
The controversial comment was made to US Ambassador Timothy Roemer, according to a diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks and published in The Hindu.
Chidambaram is said to have told the ambassador that India would have registered higher growth rates 'if it were the south and west only' because 'the rest of the country held it back'.
Predictably, political parties rooted in north India took strong objections to the alleged remark. The Samajwadi Party (SP) said the remark was 'against national unity'.
Members protested in both houses of parliament even as Chidambaram denounced the cables released by WikiLeaks.
'Don't dignify the cables. But if you want me to comment, I denounce the cables,' Chidambaram told reporters outside the house after opposition members in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha took strong objection to his comments.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav raised the issue.
He said: 'Chidambaram is in the home ministry, and despite that he has made comments against national unity. More seriously, he said this to a foreign ambassador. This is shameful.'
Chidambaram was not present in the house. Other MPs from the Samajwadi Party, Bharatiya Janata Party, Janata Dal-United and the Rashtriya Janata Dal asked the minister to apologize.
Some MPs shouted 'Grah mantri ko hata do, hata do!' (Sack the home minister!).
Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar tried to pacify the MPs but they walked to her podium and shouted slogans. Meira Kumar adjourned the house for about 45 minutes.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal sought to cool the tempers saying: 'Let WikiLeaks not leak the country.'
In the Rajya Sabha, Samajwadi member Ram Gopal Yadav called Chidambaram's comments an 'insult' to the nation