King Karti

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Karti Chi­dambaram has al­legedly ac­cu­mu­lated un­prece­dented and un­ac­counted wealth. His is an un­abashed saga of the fail­ings of In­dian polity and gov­er­nance. His rise and rise, and now may be a fall, and the lust to earn tainted money proves how a fa­ther-son nexus, es­pe­cially if the fa­ther (P Chi­dambaram) was thrice the coun­try’s Fi­nance Min­is­ter, can plun­der a na­tion.

Karti Chi­dambaram has al­legedly ac­cu­mu­lated un­prece­dented and un­ac­counted wealth. His is an un­abashed saga of the fail­ings of In­dian polity and gov­er­nance. His rise and rise, and now may be a fall, and the lust to earn tainted money proves how a fa­ther-son nexus, es­pe­cially if the fa­ther (P Chi­dambaram) was thrice the coun­try’s Fi­nance Min­is­ter, can plun­der a na­tion. Imag­ine a na­tion, where lead­ing busi­ness­men paid $15,000 each, or there­abouts, to the son to fix a meet­ing with the lat­ter’s fa­ther. And then send a “Thank you” email. Imag­ine a coun­try, where Karti was paid huge amounts to urge his fa­ther to okay well-de­served clear­ances, and slightly du­bi­ous ones, from the FIPB for for­eign in­vest­ment in­flows. Po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in the Congress didn’t dare to act against the fa­ther, de­spite this be­ing com­mon knowl­edge for years. In­stead, So­nia Gandhi and her son, Rahul, nom­i­nated him for an­other Ra­jya Sabha term in June 2016. In the BJP regime, mean­while, a se­nior cabi­net min­is­ter has the au­dac­ity and courage to defy his Prime Min­is­ter’s ef­forts to at­tack cor­rup­tion. He is busy with the ‘Save Karti’ op­er­a­tion. Alam Srini­vas opens up Karti’s Pan­dora’s Box of il­le­gal busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties re­lated to INX Me­dia, Air­cel-Maxis, Vasan health­care, and many more. More than 50 ques­tions were sent to Karti but he did not re­spond.

TWENTY-FIVE years ago, when Pala­niap­pan Chi­dambaram was the Com­merce Min­is­ter, he claimed that he was the big­ger and bet­ter re­former than Man­mo­han Singh, who was then the Fi­nance Min­is­ter and ac­knowl­edged as the ‘Fa­ther of Re­forms’ in the coun­try. PC would im­me­di­ately re­fer to the ex­port-im­port pol­icy and con­tend that the man­ner in which he had sim­pli­fied the rules for in­ter­na­tional trade were far more crit­i­cal than what MMS had done in the area of red tape and li­cence raj. Un­for­tu­nately, PC wasn’t there for too long. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the Har­shad Me­hta Scam, he had to re­sign be­cause of wife, Nalini’s in­vest­ment in Fair­growth Group, which was em­broiled in the Se­cu­ri­ties Scam. Chi­dambaram wasn’t de­terred. He went on to present what was con­sen­su­ally ac­knowl­edged as ‘In­dia’s Dream Bud­get’ five years later un­der the United Front regime. Seven­teen years later, as the Fi­nance Min­is­ter, he took credit for one of the finest pe­ri­ods—a re­ally high-growth one—in post-In­de­pen­dent In­dia. Al­most all of us were un­aware that PC, and his fam­ily, es­pe­cially his son, Karti, was one of the largest ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the re­forms. It’s only now that we have got glimpses in the multi-mil­lion dol­lar cor­po­rate-cumprop­erty em­pire that was built by the son over the past decade or so. It’s only now that we have heard al­le­ga­tions that Karti was a pow­er­ful mid­dle­man, who got things done in the fi­nance min­istry when his fa­ther was the FM. He was the al­leged re­cip­i­ent of the bribes that the FM Fa­ther took to clear mega deals. The noose is get­ting tighter around Karti’s neck. For a long time, PC claimed that the charges against his

Karti got the Madras High Court to stop the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion from ques­tion­ing him. The tide, how­ever, changed. CBI was al­lowed to fi­nally grill PC’s son. On Au­gust 28 this year, it ques­tioned him for seven hours

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