As a visibly relieved P Chidambaram walked out of the Tihar jail on Wednesday, he received a rapturous welcome by scores of Congress supporters. Chidambaram, 74, was released from the prison after being granted bail in a money laundering case linked to the INX Media. His son Karti was on hand to receive the Union minister. Dressed in his trademark long-sleeved white shirt and dhoti, Chidambaram, whose custody entered the 106th day on Wednesday with most of the time spent behind bars, was surrounded by a posse of newsmen and photographers.
"After 106 days of pre-trial incarceration, not a single charge has been framed against me," he told reporters outside the prison where hundreds of Congress supporters and party leaders were present.
They chanted slogans, 'Dekho dekho kaun aaya, sher aaya sher aaya (Look who has arrived...the tiger has arrived). Jail k tale toot gaye, chidambaram ji chhoot gaye' (The locks of prison have broken, Chidambaram ji is finally out). The gathering of his supporters also led to a traffic jam on the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Marg. Karti, who was waiting outside the jail, said he was elated.
"It has been a long wait. I am very grateful that the Supreme Court has given him bail. I am very grateful to entire top Congress leadership, including Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who have supported him through all this," he told reporters.
Lok Sabha MP K Jayakumar said Chidambaram was a classic case of revenge politics.
"We all are very happy that Chidambaram is out after 106 days of needless detention. I do not know what kind of system we have. After 90 days if the chargesheet is not filled, you should be let out," Jayakumar said.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice R Banumathi, granted bail to the former Union finance minister, who has been in custody since August 21 when he was arrested by the CBI in the INX-Media corruption case. The Enforcement Directorate had arrested him on October 16 in the money laundering case.