In yet another naïve attempt by Congress leaders, former finance minister P. Chidambaram tried to manipulate public opinion by presenting himself as a commoner. In his tweet yesterday, Chidambaram narrated how he was horrified by the unreasonably high prices of tea at Chennai Airport’s Café Coffee Day. According to him, a mere tea bag and hot water was priced Rs. 135. Taken aback by such a high price, he claims that he declined to have it. He further goes on to narrate how he was shocked by the price of coffee at the outlet, which was Rs. 180. He claims that he is a simple outdated man. However, the allegations against him and recent news reports tell a different story. If there is even an iota of truth in the allegations against the former finance minister, then his reality is diametrically opposed to the image that he is trying to create for himself.
Coffee Rs 180. I asked who buys it? Answer was 'many'. Am I outdated?
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) March 25, 2018
Interestingly, as per a news report by a leading daily, Advantage (a company owned by his son Karti Chidambaram) holds franchises of Café Coffee Day in some areas of Malaysia. This has been unearthed by I-T raids and raids by other investigating agencies. This creates an amusing situation. It is ironic that while the son owns franchises of the outlet, the father cannot afford a cup of tea or coffee at the same outlet. It is hard to believe that a vendor cannot afford to buy the coffee he sells himself.
The Café Coffee Day franchises allegedly owned by Karti are only the tip of the iceberg. It is a miniscule part of a huge empire allegedly built by the father-son duo. According to recent reports, Karti and his companies own 21 foreign bank accounts in leading banks across the globe. It includes 4 bank accounts in OCBC in Singapore in the name of the infamous company Advantage Strategic Consulting Pte Ltd., which is under the scanner in the Aircel-Maxis scam. Their assets, according to this article, also include several properties in prime locations especially in the UK. Some of the noteworthy ones are a palatial house in Cambridge and an 88 acre farmhouse known as Surridge Farm in Somerset. In fact, Karti Chidambaram has allegedly built a mammoth empire by investing in real estate in several countries including the UK, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, France, Malaysia, Greece and Thailand. According to the probe agencies, the total value of the Chidambaram Empire is more than three billion dollars. Notably most of these transactions took place between 2006 and 2014, P. Chidambaram was at the zenith of his political career.
Chidambaram has not done himself and his party a great service by making this bizarre tweet. He only became a source of derisive laughter for trying to manipulate public opinion, even though details of an empire allegedly built by him in collusion with his son are out in the public domain. No one will believe that a father-son duo which owns properties and other assets worth billions cannot afford a cup of tea worth Rs. 135. This is not the first time post 2014 that a Congress leader has tried to build a reputation of simplicity among the masses. However, their net worth comes in way of the whole PR exercise. P. Chidambaram’s tweet reeks of an attempt to deceive the general public.