The philosophical side of Union Minister P. Chidambaram was evident on Saturday when he responded to the criticism that he was “running away” from contesting on his home turf, Sivaganga, in the Lok Sabha election, fearing defeat.

The senior Congress leader also hinted at quitting active politics.

“I have not opted out fearing defeat, but took a conscious decision to stay away, after listening to my inner mind, which said ‘enough is enough in Delhi and I should work for the people in my home town’,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

Addressing a backward classes’ conference here, he said a ‘Tamizhachi” (BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman), who had not contested a single election, even at the panchayat level, had said he was running away fearing defeat. She made the remark against a person who had faced eight elections and won seven of them, he said. “If I am scared of defeat, why should I allow my son to contest,” he asked, calling his critics “mad.”

He said: “I am 68 years old, and probably left with another seven to ten years of active life.” He would take up “nirman works in the Gandhian way” for the rest of his life, he said, indicating that he would quit active electoral politics.

Enough wealth

Mr. Chidambaram underscored that his family had “enough wealth, enough to lead a comfortable life for the next ten years.” His wife, a practising advocate, was earning good money. So was his daughter-in-law, a medical practitioner, and his son.

“My only wish is that the Congress should remain strong and head the next government after the elections. Tamil Nadu should be numero uno State and India should be one of the top three countries by 2035 after the U.S. and China,” he said.

Mr. Chidambaram said he had served for 30 years in Delhi, working 17-18 hours a day. Had he been given relatively light portfolios such as Civil Aviation or Textiles, he could have worked for two-three hours a day and relaxed. But he was always given portfolios like Finance and Home Affairs.

But in both capacities he worked wholeheartedly, he said. During the global recession, he ensured that India was not downgraded. When more than 1,000 banks collapsed in the U.S. and European countries witnessed a negative growth, India maintained 5 per cent growth and not a single bank collapsed. His work would, however, be complete when he handed over the keys to a new and younger Finance Minister, hopefully from the Congress, he said.

More In: National | News | Tamil Nadu