P Chidambaram was India's Finance Minister from 1996 to 1998. He has also held the post of Commerce Minister. Known for his 1997 "dream budget" in the United Front government, the man is vocally pro-business.
The Harvard-educated lawyer-turned-politician was instrumental in following the economic reforms initiated by Manmohan Singh. However, Chidambaram used to be a hard-core Leftist arguing in favour of the command economy in the late 1960s.
A scion of a prominent industrialist family from Chennai, Chidambaram chose to stay away from the predictable path of joining the family business and went into politics. He joined the Congress after it lost power in 1967 and remained with Indira Gandhi when the party split in 1969.
He was Rajiv Gandhi's emissary to the Tamil Nadu leadership during the crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees. Though he played a big part in writing the Congress manifesto in the 1996 elections, a disagreement with his party's decision over political alignments led to him resigning and setting up a new political outfit.
The former Finance Minister, who lost the Lok Sabha election (on a Tamil Maanila Congress ticket) in 1999, has won Sivaganga seat this time on a Congress ticket.