Karti Chidambaram, the son of Congress leader P Chidambaram, has contested the Lok Sabha elections from Sivaganga constituency in Tamil Nadu on a Congress ticket but his candidature wasn’t without controversy. Many party leaders pointed out that Karti Chidambaram is currently facing corruption investigations in two cases.
“As far as I understand, people hate that entire family as they have not done any good for the Sivaganga constituency,” claimed party leader and former Union minister EM Sudarsana Natchiappan.
Sivaganga is the Chidambarams’ home constituency and was represented by P Chidambaram seven times.
Karti Chidambaram contested the elections from Sivaganga for the first time in 2014, but came fourth. This year, his main competition is Bharatiya Janata Party’s National Secretary H Raja.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP won a single seat in Tamil Nadu – Kanyakumari. A member of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, the Pattali Makkal Katchi, won the Dharmpuri seat. This year, the BJP has tied up with the AIADMK, while the Congress continues its alliance with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
Also in the fray from Sivaganga is the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, led by former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran, which has fielded V Pandi as its candidate.
Political observers believe that Karti Chidambaram’s performance in the polls will be dragged down by the corruption investigations in two cases.
The Aircel-Maxis case in which he is being investigated pertains to clearances that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board granted to Global Communication Holding Services Ltd to make investments in telecom provider Aircel in 2006. P Chidambaram was the finance minister at the time. Karti Chidambaram allegedly facilitated the payment of bribes in the transaction.
Karti Chidambaram and his father have been granted interim protection from arrest in the case till May 30.
In addition, the Enforcement Directorate has accused Karti Chidambaram’s company of receiving a bribe of Rs 10 lakh to help INX Media escape punitive action for accepting Rs 305 crore in foreign funding in 2007 despite having clearance from the Foreign Exchange Promotion Board to receive only Rs 4 crore. P Chidambaram was the Union finance minister at the time.
Unemployment a concern
The Sivaganga Lok Sabha Constituency is made up of six Assembly segments – Thirumayam, Tiruppattur, Karaikudi, Alangudi, Manamadurai, and Sivaganga. Agriculture is the main livelihood in the constituency and poor water management has been a major concern. Encroachments in the water canals have reduced the availability of water for irrigation, while the ground water table is depleting fast.
Unemployment is another major concern in Sivaganga, prompting youngsters to migrate to cities in search of jobs. Lack of infrastructure like roads, rail connectivity and electricity has stalled industrial development. Expansion of the Tamil Nadu Mineral Limited near Sivaganga has been long pending.
P Chidambaram has been criticised for not doing enough in Sivaganga despite being a Union minister in the United Progressive Alliance government.
“My father was a very high profile member of Parliament and a high profile minister so expectations are naturally high,” Karti Chidambaram had said, according to The News Minute. “I believe he has been a very good MP for Sivaganga, otherwise he wouldn’t have won from here.”
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