|Palaniappan Chidambaram at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011.|
|Minister of Finance|
31 July 2012
|Prime Minister||Manmohan Singh|
|Preceded by||Manmohan Singh|
22 May 2004 – 30 November 2008
|Prime Minister||Manmohan Singh|
|Preceded by||Jaswant Singh|
|Succeeded by||Manmohan Singh|
1 June 1996 – 21 April 1997
|Prime Minister||H. D. Deve Gowda|
|Preceded by||Jaswant Singh|
|Succeeded by||Inder Kumar Gujral|
|Minister of Home Affairs|
30 November 2008 – 31 July 2012
|Prime Minister||Manmohan Singh|
|Preceded by||Shivraj Patil|
|Succeeded by||Sushilkumar Shinde|
|Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions|
26 December 1985 – 2 December 1989
|Prime Minister||Rajiv Gandhi|
|Preceded by||Kamakhya Prasad Singh Deo|
|Succeeded by||Margaret Alva|
16 September 1945 |
|Political party||Indian National Congress (Before 1996; 2004–present)
Tamil Maanila Congress (1996–2001)
Congress Jananayaka Peravai (2001–2004)
|United Front (1996–2004)
United Progressive Alliance (2004–present)
|Alma mater||University of Madras
Harvard Business School
Chidambaram Palaniappan (born 16 September 1945) is an Indian politician affiliated with the Indian National Congress and the current Union Minister of Finance of the Republic of India. P. Chidambaram is a well known corporate lawyer and an important member of the last two Congress-led Governments. He also served as the Finance Minister from May 2004 to November 2008. However, after the resignation of Shivraj Patil in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008, Chidambaram was made the Home Affairs Minister. After a three and a half-year stint as Home Minister, Chidambaram returned as Finance Minister, succeeding Manmohan Singh.
Early life and education
Chidambaram was born to Kandanur L. Ct. L. Palaniappa Chettiar and Lakshmi Achi in Kanadukathan in the Sivaganga District, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. His maternal grandfather was Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar, a wealthy merchant and banker from Chettinad. Chidambaram did his schooling at the Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School and received a pre-university degree from Loyola College, Chennai. After graduating with a BSc degree in statistics from the Presidency College, Chennai, he completed his bachelor of laws from the Madras Law College (now Dr. Ambedkar Government Law College, and his MBA from Harvard Business School in the class of 1968. He also holds a master's degree from Loyola College in Chennai.
Chidambaram has 2 brothers and 1 sister. His father's business interests covered textiles, trading and plantations in India. He chose to concentrate on his legal practice and stayed away from the family business.
Chidambaram was elected to the Lok Sabha (Lower House) of the Indian Parliament from the Sivaganga constituency of Tamil Nadu in general elections held in 1984. He was re-elected from the same constituency in the general elections of 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, 2004 and 2009. He was a union leader for MRF and worked his way up in the Congress party.
He was the Tamil Nadu Youth Congress president and then the general secretary of the (TNPCC) Tamil Nadu Pradesh Congress Committee unit.
He was inducted into the Union (Indian federal) Council of Ministers in the government headed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on 21 September 1985 as a Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Commerce and then in the Ministry of Personnel. His main actions during his tenure in this period was to control the price of tea. He has been criticised by the Government of Sri Lanka for destroying the Sri Lankan tea trade by fixing the prices of the commodity in India using state power. He was elevated to the rank of Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions in January 1986. In October of the same year, he was appointed to the Ministry of Home Affairs as Minister of State for Internal Security. He continued to hold both offices until general elections were called in 1989. The Indian National Congress government was defeated in the general elections of 1989.
In June 1991, Chidambaram was inducted as a Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Commerce, a post he held till July 1992. He was later re-appointed Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Commerce in February 1995 and held the post until April 1996. He made some radical changes in India's export-import (EXIM) policy, while at the Ministry of Commerce.
In 1996, Chidambaram quit the Congress party and joined a breakaway faction of the Tamil Nadu state unit of the Congress party called the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC). In the general elections held in 1996, TMC along with a few national and regional level opposition parties formed a coalition government. The coalition government came as a big break for Chidambaram, who was given the key cabinet portfolio of Finance; this put him in the limelight. The coalition government was a short-lived one (it fell in 1998), but he was surprisingly reappointed to the same portfolio in the Government formed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2004.
In 1998, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took the reins of the Government for the first time and it was not until May 2004 that Chidambaram would be back in Government. Chidambaram became Minister of Finance again in the Congress party-Communist Party United Progressive Alliance government on 24 May 2004. During the intervening period Chidambaram made some experiments in his political career, leaving the Tamil Maanila Congress in 2001 and forming his own party, the Congress Jananayaka Peravai, largely focused on the regional politics of Tamil Nadu. The party failed to take off into mainstream Tamil Nadu or national politics. Just before the elections of 2004, he merged his party with the mainstream Congress party and when the Congress won the election, he was inducted into the Council of Ministers under the new Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as cabinet Minister of Finance.
On 30 November 2008, he was appointed the Union Home Minister following the resignation of Shivraj Patil who had come under intense pressure to tender his resignation following a series of terror attacks in India, including the Mumbai attacks on 26 November 2008. The public response to this move was generally favourable given Chidambaram's reputation for competence and efficiency.
He has been credited with taking the bold decision of prioritising elections above corporate demands to deploy security for T20-20 matches if IPL.
In 2009, Chidambaram was re-elected from Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency in the Congress victory and retained the Home ministry.
He was one of the representatives of the Central Government when a tri-party agreement was signed with the Gorkha Hill Council and the Government of West Bengal. The agreement was a result of Mamata Banerjee's effort to end a decade long unrest in the hills of Darjeeling.
Controversies and allegations
2G spectrum scam
In September 2011, Subramanian Swamy moved to Supreme Court of India, after months of request to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look into Chidambaram's role in the 2G spectrum scam. After having not had any favourable response from the Prime Minister he approached the Supreme Court and based on the fair credibility of preliminary evidence and documents, the court agreed to take up the petition. Andimuthu Raja, the prime accused in the 2G spectrum scam, also revealed on tapped phones that Chidambaram received a lot of money for 2G spectrum allocation.
In the same case an office memorandum from the office of the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was submitted to the Supreme Court which stated that Chidambaram collaborated in the under-pricing in the 2G spectrum scam during his tenure as Finance Minister. The memorandum said that if Chidambaram wanted, the 2G spectrum could have been auctioned. On 2 February 2012, Supreme court left it to the special CBI sessions court to decide on whether to make Chidambaram a co-accused in the case or order a CBI enquiry. On 4 February 2012, the special CBI court dismissed The CBI court accepted Swamy's two allegations that Chidambaram and A Raja took decision jointly on fixing the price of the spectrum and offloading of shares. However, it dismissed the plea saying there were lack of evidences on Chidambaram's criminal intention behind these two acts. Swamy appealed against this order directly in the Supreme court but the plea was again rejected by Supreme Court of India and thereby giving a clean chit to Chidambaram.
Aircel-Maxis deal controversy
In a press statement on 26 April 2012, Swamy alleged that Advantage Strategic Consulting, a company which is owned by Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram, received a 5% stake in mobile operator Aircel, as a condition for the 2006 Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval of Malaysian company Maxis Communications's investment in Aircel. Even though shareholding in a large publicly listed company is easily verifiable, no evidence was produced to substantiate charges of Karti owning shares in any Maxis companies. Chidambaram then had statutory authority over the FIPB in his role as the Finance Minister. Subsequently the issue was raised on multiple times in Parliament of India by the opposition which demanded his resignation. He and the government denied all the allegations. However, according to The Pioneer and India Today reports, documents show that approval to the foreign direct investment (FDI) proposal was indeed delayed by about 7 months by P Chidambaram.
Income Tax Matter In November 2005, ADMK in Tamil Nadu raised the matter of P. Chidambaram's wife, Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram, as Senior Advocate and Standing Counsel for the Income Tax Department, had argued and lost a case on behalf of the Income Tax Department vs. Janakiram Mills & Others. ADMK wrongly charged Mrs. Chidambaram of favouring Sree Karpagambal Mills Ltd., a textile mill owned by Mr. P. Chidambaram's brother. It was later established that Sree Karpagambal Mills was not party to the case. Opposition parties disrupted the Lok Sabha for a day demanding an explanation from Mr P Chidambaram. Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram returned the fees of Rs 100,000 she had received from the Income Tax Department for arguing this case.
Controversial companies representation
Chidambaram also represented the controversial British mining conglomerate Vedanta Resources in the Mumbai High Court until 2003 when he became the Finance minister of India. He was also a member of the board of directors of that company.
Securities scam resignation
He resigned on 10 July 1992 from the Minister position owning moral responsibility for investing in Fairgrowth by his wife, a company allegedly involved in securities scam. His apparent deep links in the scam was never thoroughly investigated.
Scheme for tax defaulters
In 1997, he announced a controversial Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS) which granted income-tax defaulters indefinite immunity from prosecution under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973, the Income Tax Act, 1961, the Wealth Tax Act, 1957, and the Companies Act, 1956 in exchange for self-valuation and disclosure of income and assets. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India condemned the scheme in his report as abusive and a fraud on the genuine taxpayers of the country.
Office of Profit inquiry
In August 2006, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam gave permission to enquire into the allegations that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had been holding office of profit at the time of elections. It has been alleged that they both had been the board members of Rajiv Gandhi Trust Foundation. The Election Commission has been authorised to enquire into the allegations.
On 7 April 2009, P. Chidambaram was shoed by Jarnail Singh, a Sikh journalist during a press conference in Delhi. Singh, who works at the Hindi daily Dainik Jagaran was dissatisfied with Chidamabaram's answer to a question on the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. Later, Jarnail Singh appeared on a few media channels and thanked Chidambaram for taking no action against him and said that he would apologise to Chidambaram if he got a chance to meet him personally. He also said that his method of protest was wrong, but the issue was right. He also declined to take money offered to him by the Shiromani Akali Dal, a Sikh political party.
Mr. Chidambaram has been in public conflict with other members of the UPA government on policy issues. There have been several instances where his public positions have exposed confusion in the policy agenda of the UPA government. In the past he has regularly announced plans to end Naxalism in the impending future. The most recent announcement was on 30 Jul 2010. Another previous such declaration was on 10 November 2009.
Polls result vote fraud
In 2009, Parliamentary elections, it was alleged in 'The Hindu' that Chidambaram has pressurised the Returning Officer of Sivaganga and doctored the poll results in his favour. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate Kannappan who lost in the poll demanded recounting of votes, which was declined.
Lathi charge and arrest of Anna Hazare
Chidambaram was criticised widely for ordering a police lathi charge at midnight on non-violent protesters at the Ramlila Maidan, Delhi. The protesters led by Baba Ramdev were protesting against widespread corruption in governance and demanding bringing back of black money to India stashed abroad in foreign banks.
Chidambaram's effectiveness as the Minister of Home Affairs has been questioned on various occasions. Upon taking office, he promised to tackle left-wing Naxalite-Maoist insurgency. However, there has been no progress in preventing Maoist attacks in India. Chidambaram has been accused of callously sacrificing ill-equipped and unprepared Central Reserve Police Force jawans repeatedly. On 6 April 2010 76 CRPF jawans were massacred in Dantewada. Besides condemning the attack, Chidambaram's ministry has made no progress in prosecuting the killers.
In 2010, there were several major attacks by Maoists including a 28 May 2010 train derailment that killed over 150 civilians, a 29 June attack that killed 26 policemen and dozens of other attacks that killed scores of security forces and civilians. Maoist attacks have continued in 2011, including the dismemberment of 10 police officials in Chhatisgarh state.
The RTI Act by advocate and activist Vivek Garg said that Chidambaram had been tasked to "supervise and deal with all financial matters" by a Group of Ministers in the run-up to the games.Documents accessed from PMO reveal that Chidambaram, the then FM, had been tasked with supervising all money matters pertaining to CWG which leads to a loss of 23.42 billion.
2011 Mumbai bombings intelligence failure
Chidambaram was criticised for his ministry's failure to prevent the 13 July 2011 Mumbai bombings, in spite of massive investments in security following the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Three years after the 2008 attacks, security preparations were proven to be inadequate with channel breakdown and failures in modernising, procuring and installing security equipment. Chidambaram defended the agencies under his ministry against the charge of intelligence failure with the response:
Having no intelligence in this case, however, does not mean that there was a failure on part of the intelligence agencies.
There has been no intelligence failure. There was no intelligence warning about 13/7.
Family and personal life
He is married to Nalini Chidambaram, daughter of Justice (Retd.) Kailasam, Supreme Court, and Mrs. Soundra Kailasam, a renowned Tamil Poet and author, who is a Senior Advocate and a tax lawyer practising in the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court, primarily in litigation related to the Central Excise department of the Government of India. He has a son, Karti P. Chidambaram, who graduated with a BBA degree from the University of Texas, Austin, and a Masters in Law from University of Cambridge, UK. Karti, a Congress Party's AICC member, is active in Tamil Nadu state politics with considerable help from PC. Karti is married to Dr. Srinidi Rangarajan, a well-known bharathanatiyam dancer and a medical doctor, working with Apollo Hospitals, Chennai. Karti and Srinidhi have a daughter, Aditi Nalini Chidambaram.
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Kamakhya Prasad Singh Deo
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Inder Kumar Gujral
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