Finance Minister P Chidambaram offered two responses today when asked about fellow Tamil leader and DMK chief M Karunanidhi's suggestion that he was a potential candidate for Prime Minister.
"I know my limitations. And I live and conduct myself according to my limitations," the seasoned politician said in what he called his "serious answer". If, however, he said, reporters expected a light-hearted comment, then "I tell you this: I know that some of you think I am foolish. But I am not so foolish as you think."
The Finance Minister wore a smile as he said this at a press conference in New Delhi today. In Chennai yesterday, Mr Chidambaram sat in the front row among the audience as Mr Karunanidhi released a book on him titled "Chidambaram: Oru Paarvai," a compilation of opinion pieces about him. He did not speak at the function.
Mr Karunanidhi said Mr Chidambaram was one of few people who had a place in his heart. Then he quipped, "What next? You (the audience) have expressed your aspirations through your applause and cheers. Some speakers spoke about a dhoti-clad Tamilian becoming Prime Minister. So, that also answers the question regarding a saree-wearing Tamil becoming Prime Minister." That was a dig at Mr Karunanidhi's bete noir and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and her reported ambition for a bigger role on the national stage.