|Political Party||Indian National Congress (Till 1996 and 2004–present)|
|Tenure as FM||1996 to 1998, 2004 to 2008|
|Current Status||Minister of Home Affairs|
Born on September 16, 1945 at Kanadukathan in Sivaganga Tamil Nadu, Chidambaram Palaniappan or P Chidambaram is presently the Union Minister for Home Affairs in India.
A member of the Indian National Congress he is regarded as one of the leading Indian politicians. He has also served as the Union Finance Minister from May 2004 to November 2008. He became the Union Home Minister following the resignation of Shivraj Patil.
P Chidambaram - Political Career
Chidambaram’s political career started in 1984 when he was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Sivaganga constituency in Tamil Nadu. He was also successful from the same constituency in the next general elections held in 1989, 1991, 1996, 2004 and 2009. He started off as an MRF union leader and slowly rose to the top echelons of Congress.
He also served as the general secretary of Tamil Nadu Pradesh Congress Committee and the President of the Tamil Nadu Youth Congress. Chidambaram was included in the Union Council of Ministers in Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet on September 21, 1985.
He started off as a Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Commerce and soon shifted to the Ministry of Personnel. The major step of Chidambaram at this point of time was to control tea prices.
At that time the Sri Lankan government criticized him for fixing commodity prices in India and thus harming their tea trade. He rose to become the Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions during January 1986.
During October that year he became the Minister of State for Internal Security at the Ministry of Home Affairs. He held both the offices till 1989 when the Indian National Congress were defeated at the elections.
Chidambaram became the Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Commerce in June 1991. He stayed at this post till July 1992. He was reappointed to the post in February 1995 and held the office till April 1996.
He quit Congress in 1996 and joined Tamil Maanila Congress, which had, itself, broken away from the Congress unit of Tamil Nadu. At the general elections of 1996 TMC formed a coalition government in association with several other regional and national level opposition parties.
It was in this period that Chidambaram received the finance portfolio, which came as a major breakthrough in his political career and put him in the spotlight. The coalition government fell away in 1998 but Chidambaram was reinstated as the finance minister in 2004 by the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh when the United Progressive Alliance of Congress and Communist Party when the national elections.
From 1998 to 2004 Chidambaram made several changes to his political career. It started when he left the Tamil Maanila Congress in 2001 and started his own party Congress Jananayaka Peravai. The focus of this party was mainly on the regional political scenario of Tamil Nadu.
Chidambaram became the Union Minister of Home Affairs in 2008 when Shivraj Patil resigned after the events of 2008 Mumbai attacks. The decision was well received by the common people in India because of Chidambaram’s reputation as an efficient and competent politician.
Major Landmarks in P Chidambaram’s Political Career
Following are some of the important highlights of the political career of Chidambaram:
- In 2008 he took the courageous decision of giving elections top priority over corporate demands to give adequate security cover to the IPL tournament.
- He was among the central government representatives when the tripartite agreement was signed by the Gorkha Hill Council. The agreement was brought about by Mamata Banerjee in an effort to end the unrest at Darjeeling that had been continuing for several years.
- Chidambaram's 1996-97 budget has been praised by economists for the discipline it brought to public expenditure and the remarkable tax program that tried to deal with a stringent fiscal deficit of that period.
- The Voluntary Income Disclosure Scheme for stopping tax evasion has been praised as well.
- In 2008 he waived off farmers' debts. This effectively ensured Indian economy was not affected by the then global economic meltdown.
- From 1995 to 1996, Chidambaram is credited with taking some brave decisions regarding the export and import policy of India.