P Chidambaram Praises PM’s Speech, Adds A Message For Finance Minister

Mr Chidambaram’s comments came nearly two weeks after former Infosys Director Mohandas Pai alleged threat to businesses from “tax terrorism”, …
New Delhi:

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Independence Day speech that drew attention to “population explosion”, plastic pollution and the need for not seeing “wealth creators with suspicion” – and added a message for the current Finance Minister especially on the last point.

“Of the three exhortations, I hope the FM and her legion of tax officials and investigators heard the PM’s second exhortation loud and clear,” Mr Chidambaram tweeted today, making a direct reference to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Of the three exhortations, I hope the FM and her legion of tax officials and investigators heard the PM’s second exhortation loud and clear

— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) August 16, 2019

PM Modi in his speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort had said, “Wealth creation is a great national service. Let us never see wealth creators with suspicion. Only when wealth is created, wealth will be distributed. Wealth creation is absolutely essential. Those who create wealth are India’s wealth and we respect them.”

Mr Chidambaram’s comments came nearly two weeks after former Infosys Director Mohandas Pai alleged threat to businesses from “tax terrorism”, and a report said Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw was told by a “government official” not to speak about issues such as income tax harassment.

Mr Pai also recounted an incident, where an official called up his colleague in Infosys and threatened to “shut him down”.

The founder of popular chain Cafe Coffee Day, VG Siddhartha, before his death last month in a purported suicide note had blamed “harassment” from a senior income tax officer as one of the reasons for taking his own life.

“There was a lot of harassment from the previous DG income tax in the form of attaching our shares on two separate occasions…” Mr VG Siddhartha said in the letter tweeted by news agency ANI on the day he went missing from a bridge near Mangaluru in Karnataka. His body was found two days later.

Mr Chidambaram, along with his son Karti, faces allegations of wrongdoing in allowing foreign direct investment when he was finance minister in UPA-1.

In this year’s Union Budget, Ms Sitharaman put companies with annual turnover of Rs 400 crore under the 25 per cent corporate tax bracket, covering 99.3 per cent of the companies operating in the country. Before the announcement, the lower rate of 25 per cent was applicable only to companies having annual turnover up to Rs 250 crore.

This move was welcomed by businesses.

The centre also maintains the initial difficulties to businesses in switching to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) have smoothened out now and the national tax has started to show results.

In today’s tweet, Mr Chidambaram also praised PM Modi’s suggestions on not using single-use plastic and concerns over runaway population growth. “The… exhortations must become people’s movements. There are hundreds of dedicated voluntary organisations that are willing to lead the movements at local levels,” Mr Chidambaram said.

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Does Congress suspect Data Analytics head Praveen Chakravarty was a Modi mole? This report …

Read also: Rahul Gandhi got conned by his own men: Report says ‘Big Data‘ head Praveen Chakravarty billed Congress 24 crores and is now …

According to the report, Chakravarty had met Rahul on 21 May, on the day of Rajiv Gandhi’s death anniversary, and had presented him a list of 184 potential winners of the Congress, along with their respective constituencies and projected margins. Praveen had assured Rahul Gandhi of securing 184 seats, even if turned out to be slightly inadequate, he had promised that Congress would not be less than 164.

Congress had also alleged earlier that he had conned the Congress party by presenting a bill of Rs 24 crores for his services and has not even provided the Congress with the hard disc of the data he had collected.

Reportedly, Chakravarty sent an email to the data analytics department of Congress detailing his reflections on how his shady data failed to give correct projections for Congress. Chakravarty washes his hands off the poll debacle and says how there is nothing much we (data analytics department) could have done. The mail reportedly did not mention the failure of Shakti app, Congress’ data app, from trying to read the Modi wave in the second term.

As per a party functionary, about 30-40% data in an earlier variation of Shakti app was fake in Karnataka, where it was launched before the May 2018 state assembly elections. Three months later, when Shakti app was launched, the focus was on the volume of data collected. A competition was also held where the one who collected most data would get to meet the party President Rahul Gandhi. Without checks in place, more fake data was collected. As per the report, about 50-70% of the data collected through Shakti app was fake.

Read also: Congress shields the clown prince, Praveen Chakravarty becomes the scapegoat for Rahul Gandhi’s electoral disaster

In fact, the report had suggested, without naming any senior functionary within the Congress, that Chakravarty fed the Rafale controversy into Rahul Gandhi’s head but a lot of senior leaders didn’t really follow the Rafale bogey Rahul was riding on.

Chakravarty was the founding trustee of the dubious database with faulty ‘fact-checker’ had also stated that the BJP victory in 2014 was a ‘black swan’ which could not be repeated. His analysis and data were found to be inconsistent with the reality as the BJP not only repeated it but even managed to outdo itself in terms of voter share. The ‘black swan’ managed to get almost 50% vote share, way above the 31% it got in 2014.

Congress seems to be desperate to shield the crowned prince and insist that the reason for defeat rests on someone else’s shoulder. After the string of mistakes that led to the 2019 debacle, Rahul Gandhi is now planning a nation-wide stir against EVMs.

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Sonshine in poll-bound Sivagangai

Chidambaram is allegedly involved in the Aircel-Maxis and Sequoia Capital cases. Articles published in September and October 2015 by The New …

Until last year, those who followed his fortunes were used to seeing him in a sharp suit and shades, waving to the crowds as he emerged from court proceedings. But this Lok Sabha election, the man exchanged his suit for a white shirt and dhoti, remaking himself in the image of his party and his father.

He is Karti Chidambaram, the son of Congress leader P Chidambaram, whose legacy is at stake.

In photo-ops leading up to the April 18 elections in Sivagangai, the Tamil Nadu district from where he contested, Chidambaram appeared serene and confident. It is true that his hopes of winning the election rest on Congress’ alliance with the DMK–the man himself admitted as much to ANI–thanks to the maelstrom of scandals that surrounds him. Chidambaram however remains a supremely self-possessed individual.

It has always been so. According to Mohanan Rajesh, a close friend since their Don Bosco days in Chennai, Chidambaram declared to his 6th standard class that he would be the leader when they reached Class 12. Six years later, his prophecy came true. Arul Pethiah, a senior member of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee who has observed the Sivagangai candidate from close quarters, reinforces the idea of a supremely self-assured individual. “He has done this since school,” he says. As a 6-year-old, reveals Pethiah, Chidambaram gave speeches at his father’s rallies, bringing with him the easy charisma that all natural leaders possess.

For his friends and Congress members, the scandals are the multiple elephants in the room but they believe his laid-back attitude makes confident enough to contest elections despite the whirlwind of raids and court appearances.

“All these allegations against him are politically motivated. He is very cool about it. I think this has shown him who his true friends are,” says Rajesh.

Chidambaram is allegedly involved in the Aircel-Maxis and Sequoia Capital cases. Articles published in September and October 2015 by The New Indian Express revealed that he secretly owned or co-owned, with his father, an international network of companies.

Another investigation by The Pioneer in 2016 claimed that Karti Chidambaram was involved in extensive international business activities. Allegations flew thick and fast that he had conducted most of these from 2006 to 2014, during which time his father held the Home (2008-12) and Finance (2004-2008; 2012-14) portfolios.

Legal tangles began soon after the UPA government was voted out of power in 2014. First, the Income Tax department and the ED raided his offices. In 2016, Chidambaram skipped a summons related to the Aircel-Maxis probe by the ED, earning him the ire of the government as well as the public. A year later, the Bureau of Immigration issued a ‘Look Out Circular’ (LOC) against Chidambaram, which was stayed by the Madras High Court. Shortly after, he appeared before the CBI in connection to a case involving FIPB approval of INX Media. In 2018 Chidambaram was arrested in a money laundering case and spent three days in Tihar before being released on bail. He finally set his foot at the ED office to record a statement in 2019.

According to Chidambaram, his business dealings are far removed from his political career. “I don’t think anybody can be a full-time politician. It is essential to have a full-time career. Politics should not be seen as a medium to earn a fortune,” he said in an interview with Livemint. Be that as it may, having an established family name and substantial financial resources certainly doesn’t hurt. “No one can be a full time politician unless they have huge personal wealth as a legacy inheritance,” says Rajesh. But the irony is lost on him.

Congress party workers in Sivagangai are steadfastly loyal despite the flurry of cases against their man. “We are convinced that none of these cases define our Karti sir. He is actually a pretty relaxed, kind and calm person. He will not lose like last time,” says Ganesh, one of the few party workers who was willing to talk about Chidambaram. “They [the other workers] are probably scared that the press will twist their words and write something against him again,” he said curtly. Amongst the many roles that Chidambaram has to perform for the public, playing the good son paying homage to his father’s accomplishments is the most important. If one is the progeny of a famed politician, voters almost always bank on “family values” over any concrete policies or proposed solutions to local issues that they may bring to the table.

“Karti has never done wrong by his father. It is all a political conspiracy,” says Pethiah. His father agrees, calling it a vendetta by the current government. However, the natural progression of Karti taking over from his father in the backdrop of an extremely unpredictable election for both parties did not go down well within the Congress either. Sudarshana Natchiappan, former Union minister who was in the running for the Sivagangai seat, was furious with Chidambaram, saying, “Has the Congress not been able to find a good candidate in the entire country? Is Mr Karti a freedom fighter?” Natchiappan made up with him soon after though, calling him his “loveable” brother.

As far as policy goes, “I think he can solve the water problems in our state,” says Ganesh. But more curious to the locals is his idea of converting Sivagangai’s old Chettiar houses into heritage sites that will attract tourists and provide a boost to the local economy. “I mean, Karti sir knows we have other issues, but maybe this will bring us some revenue,” he says.

The campaigning is over and the votes have been cast. The only thing left to do now is await the results on May 23 and reflect on a tumultuous few months. Could Karti Chidambaram have done anything better? Rajesh responds, “He could have cultivated the press a little better like most politicians do. You know what I mean.”

Divya Karthikeyan is a Chennai-based journalist

Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.

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MUST WATCH: Here’s What Infosys Co-founder Narayana Murthy Said As He Cast His Vote In The …

Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy vehemently refused to take sides or talk about any issues on polling day, after casting his vote at Jayanagara in …

Hack:

  • Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy vehemently refused to take sides or talk about any issues on polling day, after casting his vote at Jayanagara in Bengaluru.
  • He also said that voter turnout has increased and that the youth are actively exercising their duty to vote.
  • Karnataka where 14 seats are in the fray, is a major battleground where the BJP faces the Congress-JD(S) coalition.

Interacting with the media after casting his vote at Jayanagara polling booth 54 -BES college, Infosys founder Narayana Murthy, on Thursday, vehemently refused to take sides or talk about any issues on polling day.

On being asked which issues matter for him while casting his vote, he quoted the EC’s order to refrain from talking about political parties and policies 48 hours prior to voting.

“The Election Commission has banned talk about any party today. We are supposed to go out and vote. And me and my family has discharged our duty which makes me happy. That is all I can say.”

Murthy was accompanied by this wife and chairperson of the Infosys Foundation, author Sudha Murthy.

When asked about any changes he had seen in the recent years while voting, he said that the voter turnout has increased and that the youth are actively exercising their duty to vote.

“I think I see more people coming out to vote now which is very healthy. A large number of young people are voting. Atleast in this polling booth, I encountered a large number of youngsters which is very positive.”

READ| BJP President Amit Shah Tweets To Young Voters To Vote Envisioning A Progressive Future, As Phase 2 Begins

Bengaluru which has had a voter turnout of 55% is the central hub of the IT sector in the country. When asked about his views on this poor turnout in Bengaluru, he said that a large number of outsiders working in the city’s IT sector may be one of the reasons.

“One must remember that a significant number of voters come from outside Karnataka. In the IT sector, at best 65% of the people are locals and 35% are from outside. So it is quite possible that they cannot go back to their places to vote, while some may have gone back to vote. So I would not worry too much about voter turnout being only 55%,” he said.

On repeatedly being asked questions about party manifestos and the BJP’s performance in the polls, he repeated his stance of not taking sides on polling day.

“As I told you in the beginning, this is not a day to discuss issues and parties or anything which will disrupt the calm and the peace of the voting process which the EC. This is the polling period and all should only go and vote just like you people have done, I too have voted.”

The second phase of Lok Sabha polls is underway in 12 states and 1 union territory on Thursday. With 95 Lok Sabha seats in the fray and 52 of them belonging to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, phase two is a battle for the southern vote. Karnataka where 14 seats are in the fray, is a major battleground where the BJP faces the Congress-JD(S) coalition.

Republic World brings you comprehensive election news coverage and phase-by-phase election updates of the Indian General Elections 2019. The 2019 Lok Sabha Elections will be held from April 11 to May 19 in seven phases, with the counting of votes scheduled for May 23. Get all the latest election news, highlights, controversies, polls, live updates and results of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019, only on Republic World.

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