Congress Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Congress Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Text Size:

New Delhi: Senior Congress leaders Kamal Nath and D.K. Shivakumar should be appointed as general secretaries in-charge of elections, party MP Karti Chidambaram has suggested. 

In an exclusive interview with ThePrint, Karti Chidambaram also stated that “elections should be treated as a full-time job”.  

“Elections are not just about selecting candidates, filing nominations and running a campaign just three weeks before polling,” he said. “It’s something you do six months in advance.”

The Lok Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu’s Sivaganga said the candidate assuming such a role should be one with immense experience. “But I am not competent to be general secretary of elections… I have two names in mind, Kamal Nath and D.K. Shivakumar,” he said.

“Kamal Nath is the winningest MP so he understands electoral politics and how to win elections,” he added. “D.K. Shivakumar is a proven manager, and he is younger. So given a choice, these are the two names I would nominate.”  

Chidambaram cited the NYAY scheme proposed by the Congress just ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as an example of the party introducing its strategy later than it should.  

“If we had communicated that six months earlier, it could have seeped into the psyche of the people and made a big difference,” he added. “It takes time for any campaign to gain traction. Elections are not something you do in three weeks, elections are something you do all the time.” 

He further said that the party needs to “constantly do polling to understand the pulse of the nation”, adding that it should also articulate its idea of India as forcefully as the BJP does. 

“The BJP has an ideological backbone, which I don’t agree with,” Chidambaram said. “Their idea of India is not something I agree with. But they seem to be articulating it very forcefully. We need to formulate our idea properly, and take it to the people.

“Our (Congress’) principal opposition is the BJP, which is a much more organised and well-oiled political machinery,” he added. “It has rolled out electoral victories at a far greater rate than us.”

Chidambaram was also one of the first Congress leaders to endorse Kapil Sibal’s statement that the Congress needed to introspect why it was drubbed in the Bihar elections — the party won just 19 of the 70 seats it contested. 

Since then, other leaders, such as the Congress’ leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and P. Chidambaram, Karti’s father, have also joined the chorus — adding to the growing divide in the party. 


‘Endorsed a view that is widely held’

On why he backed Sibal’s introspection remarks, Karti Chidambaram said he was “only endorsing a view which is widely prevalent and is the only sensible thing to do”.  

“It’s not just me, these are concerns being raised by many senior leaders like former CMs Ghulam Nabi Azad, Veerappa Moily and Bhupendra Hooda,” he said. “Others like Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari have also said so. So it’s not just a fallout after Bihar.”

He also referred to the letter written by 23 top party leaders to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi in August, calling for a leadership overhaul. 

“In the last two Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has cumulatively won less than 100 seats.  So obviously things are not going right for us,” he said. “It’s time to take stock and see if any course correction is to be made. if organisationally things need to be changed, change the way we make our outreach to the public at large.” 

Sibal’s call for introspection had triggered a pushback with some other Congress leaders such as Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot slamming those expressing their grievances publicly. 

Chidambaram retorted to this by saying, “People have explained why we are taking to public forums. That’s because there are no organised internal forums that actually take this up and where there are follow-ups.

“And there is nothing wrong with speaking publicly,” he added. “We are a large party, debates should be public. I believe in transparency. And a large party that has a presence across the country should ideate and argue publicly.”

Also read: Ahmed Patel’s death is the biggest political event of 2020

‘Priyanka contesting from Kanyakumari will fire up workers’

The Lok Sabha MP also explained his rationale behind proposing Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s name as a candidate from the Kanyakumari seat, which is set for a Lok Sabha bypoll. 

The seat has been vacant since incumbent H. Vasanthakumar died of Covid-19 this August, and may go for bypolls in the coming months.

“Let me explain why I suggested that. There is some method in my madness,” Chidambaram said. “I played sports to a decent level. When things don’t go well, you have to change things up. You can’t just play the same game. You need to fire up someone’s imagination. You need to unsettle the opposition. You need to do things differently, you can’t carry on as business as usual.

“If Priyanka Gandhi contests from Kanyakumari, it will fire up the imagination of the average Congress worker. It will bring great enthusiasm to the cadre of the party if she enters Parliament — that itself will be a talking point,” he added. “I know our numbers are not great in Parliament but having her there with her feisty personality will definitely help.” 

The Uttar Pradesh general secretary can continue holding that position too, Chidambaram said.

“Today when things are not the rosiest, the mood of the average party worker will definitely be uplifted if she contests and it will have a ripple effect,” he added. “Plus, it will be a sure-shot victory as it is a very strong Congress seat.” 

Also read: Amarinder, Sidhu bury hatchet over lunch, cricketer could be set to return as Punjab minister

‘Rahul Gandhi will become president again if elections held’ 

Chidambaram, however, said he doesn’t think elections to the post of the party president will change the fortunes of the party.

He also said that if elections are held in the Congress today, Rahul Gandhi will be voted back. The leader had stepped down last year after the party lost the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 

“The honest and widespread choice within the Congress is that someone from the Gandhi family must lead it… And even if elections are held today it is very clear and universally accepted that Rahul Gandhi will become the president of the party,” Chidambaram said. “He will absolutely be voted back. There is no doubt about it, that is the universal wish of all party workers.

“The media is focused on who is the president and that somehow the process of coming up with a president will solve all the electoral debacles we are facing. That’s not correct,” Chidambaram said.

He described the subject of party elections as “just one more minor detail”.  

“So whether there will be an election for party president or not is in my opinion just one more minor detail,” he added. “In fact there are far greater things, far more important things that we need to do.”

Also read: A 1980s cricket match that gives peek into how Ahmed Patel tackled party, politics & politicians

‘Can’t be Hindutva-lite’ 

Chidambaram further said he doesn’t believe in being ‘Hindutva-lite’ as a strategy, and that the Congress should express its position clearly. 

“I don’t believe in Hindutva-lite. I consider myself to be a temple-going, superstitious, astrology-believing, ritualistic person,” he said. “But I don’t believe in basing my politics on my personal beliefs.”

He further said that the party should articulate its position clearly, and ensure that church and state are kept separate.

“I don’t believe in this Hindutva strategy that some people might suggest. There are some things we should be very clear about,” he added. “I don’t think India needs any new place of worship — we have enough temples, gurudwaras and mosques. We should preserve the heritage we already have.”

Also read: Congress didn’t do much to tackle accusations thrown at party and these stayed


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism



  1. Committing to reducing POPULATION through strict population control measures and a promise to implement secular policies by not discriminating against HINDUS will bring CONGRESS to mainstream ISO being a party of fringe elements and anti social activist.

  2. Karti does not want to be election in-charge because he does not want the loot money to be spent by him as the family itself is miser and no prospect of multiplying the spent loot money.

  3. A corrupt dynasty preaching Indians and Shekhar Guptha print providing platform to this person , his driver , servent and his manger Passed crores of rupees to this Karthi chidambarams daughter, their income per month is just below 30,000 Rs but they can transfer crores to his masters Daugter as good will , donot ask how they earned crores being a driver and servent

Comments are closed.