Karti: The Chinna Chidambaram

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 21, 2014 10:58 hrs

His surname gets your immediate attention, but who really is Karti Chidambaram?  

At the moment, Karti is in the news because his father, finance minister P Chidambaram, has opted out of the Lok Sabha polls from Sivaganga and the Congress party has fielded Karti instead.

‘Karti P Chidambaram: The Young Politician’ announces his website. At the home page one can see a slideshow of a smiling ‘chinna’ (little) Chidambaram with his father, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Accompanying this slideshow are very cliched political slogans for change and empowerment of the youth, very much in sync with Rahul Gandhi’s meek and delayed clarion call.

Advocating representation of the youth in the Lok Sabha, one says, “We need a parliament where there are a fair number of younger people” while another youthful initiative reads, “Immense economic growth and social benefit can happen if the youth embraces social entrepreneurship”.

There is also a section where junior Chidambaram’s statements in the media or articles about him can be read. One link leads an interview with the Tennis India Magazine where he says, “My primary ambition in life was to be a professional tennis player.”

That primary ambition long forgotten, Karti probably deserves a surrogate pleasure by being the All India Tennis Association vice president now. He also organizes the Indian Open in Chennai, the country’s premier tennis tournament.

Though he will fight for the Congress – which is known for doling out populist schemes and failingly championing the cause of economic equality in India – Karti is an advocate of the private sector. In 2010, he asked students to ‘stay away from the principles of Marx or communism’ as he thought them to be a ‘failure and outdated’.

Karti, and the article is linked as ‘Communism is a failure model’, had said, ‘The concept of liberalization was generally misunderstood as causing poverty in rural areas. In fact, it was liberalization which produced lot of opportunities to youth.’

A student of illustrious institutions like The University of Texas at Austin (where he got a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration) and Cambridge
University (from where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Law), Karti wants public accountability in governance.

“Unless we hold people accountable for the failings in providing them, we will never improve” says one of the flying slides. But the man who wants transparency at every level, even in the Indian Premier League, may be yet another influential father’s son.

In this interview, he admits that being Chidambaram’s son brings privileges and it is unfortunate that the country is so unequal.

“Coming to politics was a personal decision. I took this decision when I was 14. I personally think that the government is the greatest agent of change. I continue to have a very privileged life in this country. This country is a very unequal and unfair country. The government can be a great equaliser and do a lot of good. It is my duty, if it is possible on my part, to do my bit.”

But has Karti done his bit yet?

His political career is yet to take off and Karti is already carrying an ugly baggage of corruption. It is alleged that he has been a beneficiary of the Aircel-Maxis deal, an allegation that evoked an emotional response from his father two years back when senior Chidambaram said, “It would be much simpler if somebody took a dagger and plunged it into my heart rather than questioning my integrity.”

But today his father has opted out of the electoral race and given his son Karti the mantle who claims to be a Congress worker since 1996.
Will these 18 years as a campaigner-cum-son of his influential father, who won the last elections from Sivaganga on recount, work in his favour?

Only May 16 holds the answer.

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