It is former Union Minister P Chidambaram’s 74th birthday, and he is languishing in Tihar jail. Indicted in a graft case, the veteran politician was sent to jail on September 5 and is spending his birthday on September 16 away from his home and family. To mark the day, his son Karti Chidambaram, also under the scanner of investigating agencies, wrote an open letter to his “appa”.
Despite the note being heart touching, it is hard to miss the political jibes that abound it. In fact, junior Chidambaram took several sharp digs at the government at the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Right from go, the letter begins nuking the PM and his Bharatiya Janata Party government by making references to the “56-inch chest” comment PM Modi had made during his 2014 election campaign. The opening lines of the letter Karti posted on Twitter read: “You are turning 74 today and not 56!!!”
He then moves on to talk about a host of subjects such as India’s second Moon mission Chandrayaan 2, the slump in the economy, the Jammu and Kashmir issue, and so on, as if to update his father on the landmark events that have shaped the country since the latter went to jail.
Then, apparently taking an oblique jibe at the Modi government’s completion of 100 days, he wrote: “...we wish you were back home to cut a cake with all of us. But of course, in today's day and age, turning 74 is nothing compared to turning 100 days old.”
The Congress MP did not even mince his words while discussing the “drama” at the Chandrayaan 2 mission’s attempted Moon landing and the subsequent loss of contact with the Vikram lander. He goes on to write: “No, not the drama of the lander losing communication, but the big drama a little after that. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief, Dr (K) Sivan, our fellow Tamilian from Kanyakumari, was visibly upset and the Prime Minister was at hand to offer his arms and comfort him with his iconic head grab. I sincerely hope our Prime Minister pegs the achievements of our ISRO scientists a little above what his bhakts believe -- that India's Space Programme, along with plastic surgery and aviation, was created thousands of years ago...and not by ISRO. In fact, last week Piyush Goyal even snatched the theory of gravity away from Newton and pooh-poohed Einstein.”
The two-page letter also criticised the government for the current economic slowdown, including the six-year-low GDP growth and the crisis in the automobile industry. Mocking Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, he spoke about the “astute insight” of his father’s “successor twice removed” over her comments blaming millennials’ preference of ride-sharing applications for the auto sector’s apathy.
Moving on, he spoke about the restrictions imposed on Jammu and Kashmir for more than a month now to prevent backlash over the Centre’s rash decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution that granted special status to the state. The Congressman wrote: “Only you will understand the true plight of the Kashmiris. Because both of you have been locked down unfairly. Though you are better off than the people of Kashmir who are still under a government-imposed communication blackout.”
On a side note, he broods over the warm moments they could have shared at Rafael Nadal’s US Open win, had P Chidambaram not been behind bars. “...It was something else to see him triumph on a surface that has repeatedly been unforgiving and cruel to him. Had you been at home, we would have definitely watched the match together. Rafael Nadal then shook hands with Medvedev, the way civilized opponents should. Not get vindictive and punish them for no cause.”