Bengaluru: The talk of former Congress stalwart SM Krishna returning to mother party has set the rumour mills abuzz in Karnataka ahead of a “do-or-die” battle for both Congress and BJP.
The former chief minister and external affairs minister joined the BJP in a surprise move a year ago, calling the Congress a party in rapid decline.
A year later, he seem to be interested in returning to the same party, claim state Congress sources.
According to these sources, SM Krishna is disillusioned with the BJP and feels that the saffron party has humiliated him by giving no importance to him.
“It has also refused to field his daughter Shambhavi from Rajarajeshwarinagara Assembly seat in Bengaluru. Neither the state BJP, nor its national leadership is giving him any importance. He is actually a nobody in BJP. It has hurt him deeply. He has been sending the feelers to Congress for the past two months,” said a senior leader of the party.
He said that state Congress president Dr G Parameshwara and power minister DK Shivakumar are ready to welcome SM Krishna back into the party.
“These two have discussed it with Rahul Gandhi. If he and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah agree, the Vokkaliga leader may return to Congress even before the elections,” he added.
When contacted, Krishna’s personal staff told News18 that he was away in Mumbai on some personal work and they had no idea about him returning to Congress. The BJP has also declined to comment on mere speculations.
Krishna, who was also the Governor of Maharashtra, quit the Congress in early 2017, attacking Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. He had said that Gandhi had no respect for the seniority of leaders like him.
After joining the BJP, Krishna has been keeping a low profile, occasionally attending public functions. He has participated in only a few BJP functions and has stayed away from the ongoing electioneering.
According to one of his aides, no one visits his house in upscale Sadashivanagara these days.
“Earlier, even Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi used to come home. Every day at least 50-100 Congress people, including top leaders, used to call on him. During elections, ticket aspirants used to line up outside his house right from early in the morning. After he quit the Congress, no one from that party comes here. Even the BJP people won’t meet him. Mostly, he is alone. He travels and spends time reading books. He is mentally a Congressman. He can’t adjust to the BJP culture.”
Speaking to this reporter a month ago, Krishna had dismissed reports that he was unhappy with the BJP. He had said that he was “not at all upset or angry” with state BJP leaders. When asked about not participating in BJP events, he chose to ignore the question.
The BJP was planning to use him to woo Vokkaliga votes in old Mysore region where the saffron party is weak. It also wanted to use him in Bengaluru city to attract non-BJP votes, say some state leaders.
Krishna is credited with putting Bengaluru on the global map during his tenure as chief minister between 1999 and 2004, and was considered a big face of “development” in the state capital.
According to state Congress working president Dinesh Gundurao, “The Congress had given him everything. It made him a Union Minister, Chief Minister, Speaker, KPCC president and Governor. It made him MLA and MP many times. Even after getting so much from the party, he left us to join the BJP. Even today, we don’t know what made him quit the party.”
It is no secret that many Congress leaders, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, were happy with his exit as he was not seen to be adding value to the party in the state.
Siddaramaiah and Krishna never shared a good rapport and the latter had publicly attacked him on many occasions.
Reacting to Krishna’s absence at BJP meetings, Yeddyurappa denied any rift and said the party had always respected Krishna’s experience and seniority.
Krishna, a Fulbright Scholar, won his first Assembly election in 1962 on a Praja Socialist Party (PSP) ticket from Maddur. As an MP, he joined the Congress in early 1970s and rose to prominence in the party.
He has held important portfolios in both state and central governments. He was the Chief Minister, Governor of Maharashtra and External Affairs Minister.