I get summoned each time my father tweets: Karti

Karti, son of former Union Minister P Chidambaram, is contesting from the family stronghold of Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu for the second time after a failed attempt in 2014. In an interview to DH’s E.T.B. Sivapriyan in Sivaganga, Karti says his candidature took longer than expected since the constituency was actively considered for Rahul Gandhi before choosing Wayanad. Excerpts:
Q: What is your assessment of the DMK-Congress alliance in Tamil Nadu?
A: It will be a repeat of the 1996 and 2004 elections which was swept by the same alliance (In 1996, the TMC led by late G K Moopannar had aligned with DMK). Every election that the Congress has had an alliance with the DMK, we have done spectacularly well in Sivaganga.
Q: The AIADMK-BJP alliance says they are also a formidable combine. How do you respond?
A: They are not. If you take the 2016 assembly elections votes, the DMK and Congress have done well in constituencies that fall under Sivaganga Lok Sabha segment. If we poll just those votes, the Congress will lead by about 50,000 votes even if you add the BJP’s 13,000 votes in all six assembly seats to AIADMK’s share. You should also add the votes scored by the MDMK and Left parties in the last assembly elections to our combine. On the top of it, we have the consolidation of minority votes and there will be a split in AIADMK votes too. Our lead would only go up.
Q: Is the Congress polarising minority votes?
A: There is no polarisation by the Congress, but it is the counter consolidation because of the fear that minorities have against the BJP which is sectarian. The minorities are very scared of the BJP and their narrative because of their conduct in the last five years. This is just a counter consolidation which is happening behind the only party that they believe is truly secular in India.
Q: Your face a three-cornered fight in Sivaganga with BJP’s H Raja and T T V Dhinakaran’s nominee V Pandi. Who is your competitor – the BJP or TTV’s AMMK?  

A: I believe that candidates are irrelevant, and people vote for parties and alliances. If a particular candidate is highly controversial, that is a minus to the alliance or the party. Our alliance, our vote shares and the fact that the minorities and Dalits trust will make us comfortably win the elections. I think there is a lot of people who were affected by demonetisation and GST will also vote for us. I think many traders will vote for us and that is the sense that I get when I visit towns.
Q: What do you think would make people to vote for the Congress this time?
A: I think Tamil Nadu wants a change of government at the Centre and they want a government headed by the Congress party. It is as simple as that. They don’t want Modi and BJP. It is very clear and simple.
Q: But the Congress drew a blank in 2014. What do you have to say?
A: That was when we contested alone. How many seats did BJP win in 2016 assembly polls when they contested alone? We are fighting here on alliance strength
Q: There is wide-spread criticism that not much was done in Sivaganga by your father P Chidambaram who represented the seat seven times?  
A: Expectations are really high particularly when the person is high-profile. We have released a 27-page booklet on what was done to Sivaganga – we brought BHEL factory, spices park and established paramilitary training centres. I accept that the expectations are high. Lot has been done and lot will be done. People know our track record of performance and not interfering in local affairs. That’s actually a big plus for us. We are not politicians who interfere in day-today life and I think people appreciate us for that.
Q: Why did your candidature take longer time than expected?
A: It didn’t. Will I win by an extra margin if it had been announced two days earlier? There was a consideration for Mr Rahul Gandhi to contest from here. A lot of things were going on and this was one of the seats which was very seriously considered for him in South India. And I stand vindicated today because Mr Rahul Gandhi is contesting from Wayand in Kerala in South India.   
Q: The Opposition parties call you corrupt because of the pending cases against you. Your response.
A: I have no cases against me, and it is as simple as that. Summoning is not case. Since the government of the day has the power to harass me, agencies that are pliant to them harass me because my father is the most vehement critic of the present government. I have no cases and my election affidavit, which is a public document, clearly says that there are no cases against me.
Q: Are you coming to say that you have just been summoned without any basis?
A: There is no case and I don’t face any proceedings in any court. There are no cases against me. A case is when charges are framed against me and I have to defend myself against those charges. I have no case against me in any court of law. In India, a supposed investigation can go on for ever. This is the country which even wants to reopen the assassination case of Mahatma Gandhi. I will be investigated forever as long as we are a vocal opposition. That’s all.
Q: You said your father is targeted for his vehement Opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. Aren’t there many
people who criticise the BJP both within Congress and outside?
A: He is the most vehement critic of the BJP government. Who else in the Congress party criticises the government like he does? Who else speaks against the government? Who else consistently writes against the government? He is the most articulate critic of the BJP government in the country. I get summons for every tweet that my father posts against the government. He tweets and I get summons.
Q: What is your promise to Sivaganga?
A: We will implement the Congress manifesto. On constituency wise, the focus will be on pumping in private investment, boost business environment here on multiple fronts and rejuvenate tanks and lakes so that we have enough storage of water for summer season.
Q: What is your father’s advice to you?
A: Smile a lot. He asks me to keep smiling and always be positive while interacting with people. Don’t be bitter and difficult – this is what he says.

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I get summoned each time my father tweets: Karti


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