Archive for March, 2011
Karti Chidambaram (Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s son) of the Congress, M. Patturajan (confidant of DMK’s M.K. Alagiri) and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) MP Asaduddin Owaisi spoke without inhibition to US diplomats how they and their men made payments to voters during the election campaign. That’s the story of Wikileaks cables on India.
Responding to the publication of Wikileaks cables in The Hindu involving his name, Karti Chidambaram has stoutly denied he was involved in any acts of bribing voters as chief manager for his father’s campaign in Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency.
Karti’s detractors in the faction-ridden Tamil Nadu Congress Committee cannot contain their glee at the cable leaks. But Karti’s friends say the criticism is because the “Chidambram camp” is gaining prominence against other dominant group led by G K Vasan, son of late G K Moopananar and Shipping Mininister.
Though Karti began as his father’s son and campaign manager, he is now in thick of TN politics, whether it is organising voters at polling booths, crowds at rallies, or devising strategies to keep other faction at bay.
Karti has ensured that loyalists of his father, Chidambaram, get at least 16 of the Congress list of 63 (wrested from the DMK after tense seat-sharing talks). There were just three MLAs in the last Assembly.
Apart from Chidambaram, it is Karti who has worked in the last five years to create a ginger group in the TNCC. His detractors within the party openly accuse Karti as a wily businessman/sports official/ politician of using his political clout and money power to woo the members of ‘rival’ Congress factions.
Karti’s friends say Karti is a hardworking young man. Unlike his father who is not easily accessible to Congress cadres, Karti moves with them. He ensured that his father’s group won 15 districts in the state-le vel NSUI polls. Vasan’s group won only eight.
“Karti has proved his organisational skills. He can speak extempore in both English and Tamil depending on his audience,” says Karate R. Thiagarajan, former Chennai deputy mayor and PC loyalist.
Another Congress senior recalled that Chidambaram would campaign only within his Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency and rarely pushed himself during the era of his political guru the late Moopanar. “But now Karti is all over the state addressing meetings and visiting houses of party members, in veshti if in the rural side and trim pants in the cities. He is the only Congress leader who will immediately respond to an SMS,” says Viswanathan, the lone Chidambaram’s supporter among the Congress MPs in the Lok Sabha.
But the Wikileaks cables show Frederick J. Kaplan, acting principal officer of the US consulate general in Chennai, telling his bosses in Washington that these leaders have admitted to payments made in the form of cash, goods, or services, according to a revealing cable sent to the state department by
In a cable sent on May 13, 2009 Kaplan elaborated the role of money in the electoral process: “Bribes from political parties to voters are a regular feature of elections in south India. From paying to dig wells to slipping cash inside the morning newspaper, politicians admitted to violating election rules to influence vote.”
“The money to pay bribes comes from proceeds of fund-raising, which often crosses into political corruption. The precise impact of bribery on voter behaviour is hard to measure. But there is no doubt it swings at least some elections. Journalists, politicians, and voters speak of bribes as a commonly accepted fact of the election process,” he said.
Not long ago, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had declared that he did not wish to contest the Lok Sabha polls any more.
Law Minister Veerappa Moily may try to downplay the Supreme Court’s indictment of the UPA government for appointing P J Thomas as Chief Vigilance Commissioner. But the haunting question within the Congress is who should take the rap for messing up this issue?
secret that Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram differ on many issues – ranging from
the economy to naxalites. The buzz goes that Chidambaram is eyeing Pranab’s
ministry since he finds his portfolio more of a policing work.
won’t budge from Finance unless he is tempted with, say a tag of Deputy Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh would like either Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia or Dr C
Rangarajan if he is allowed to have his say when the promised second major
reshuffle takes place in May.
Sonia Gandhi is very pleased with Pranab for paying attention to her pet
concerns relating to the rural sector. She would rather prefer Pranab than
anyone else, which makes Chidambaram’s plan to get out of Home all the more difficult,
say AICC sources.
The not-so silent war between Pranab and Chidambaram has got thicker.
his budget speech wherein he said the talk of drift in the government was
misplaced is directed at those like Chidambaram who have talked of “governance
deficit”, Pranab’s answer has left many in the Congress speechless.
“When I am
in the government, I have to maintain certain norms. If I find that there is a
deficit in the governance, then the corollary is why am I there?”
no one guessing who he was aiming at. After, all it was Chidambaram who had
told a Wall Street Journal interviewer that “there is indeed a governance
deficit in some areas and perhaps there is also an ethical deficit.” As a
counter, Pranab said in his budget speech that the impression of a drift in
governance is “misplaced.”