India's Swamy, sworn enemy of the ruling Congress

Thu Feb 2, 2012 5:43am EST
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By Henry Foy

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Mobbed by cameramen and with two fingers raised in a victory salute, Subramanian Swamy stood before India's Supreme Court on Thursday, flushed with the vindication of an unrelenting legal campaign aimed at the country's most powerful politicians.

A publicity-hungry former minister and disgraced Harvard professor who is exalted by his Hindu nationalist followers as a crusading hero, Swamy has waged a decades-long war against the ruling Congress party and the Nehru-Gandhi family at its heart.

India's top court ruled earlier on Thursday that telecoms licenses won during a scam-tainted bidding process that may have cost the government up to $36 billion in lost revenues should be cancelled.

"This is a collective failure of the government of India," declared Swamy, who was a petitioner in the case.

Swamy's fight is a political one. Amid the embarrassment for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government, which oversaw the sale of the licenses at below-market prices, the 72-year-old eyed his next target.

"I will prove that Mr Chidambaram is a crook," he told a throng of reporters, cheered by the court's order that a lower court should investigate Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram.

Swamy accuses Chidambaram of signing off on the telecoms deal when he was finance minister. Chidambaram denies wrongdoing.

Swamy has been here before. Spurred by his arguments, in February 2011 the court ordered federal investigators to look into the 2G scam, named after the type of mobile licenses involved, and last month accepted his petition that the role of the Prime Minister's Office in the process should be examined.   Continued...

<p>Subramanian Swamy, an opposition politician who brought the petition to revoke the telecom licences issued in 2008, speaks with the media after a verdict outside the Supreme Court in New Delhi February 2, 2012. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma</p>