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Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018: Why SM Krishna is a Lonely Man Despite Hectic Action in State Politics

SM Krishna, who switched over from the Congress six months ago, insists that all is well between the BJP and him, but is mum on why he doesn’t attend party events anymore.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:April 1, 2018, 11:26 AM IST
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Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018: Why SM Krishna is a Lonely Man Despite Hectic Action in State Politics
SM Krishna (extreme right) with BJP leaders during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bengaluru on February 4.
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Bengaluru: More than six months ago, media houses in Bengaluru received a press release from the state BJP office. It was about the appointment of members to Karnataka state BJP social media cell. One name caught the eyes of everyone — SM Krishna.

The former Karnataka chief minister and a Congress stalwart who switched sides a few months ago was nominated to the social media cell as one of the members. The moment local TV channels started flashing that news, his former colleagues in the Congress wasted no time and started ridiculing him, calling the BJP a “use and throw” party. They accused the BJP of insulting a “tall leader” like Krishna by nominating him to an “insignificant” social media cell. Some even openly said that Krishna had “deserved” that kind of treatment by the BJP.

A red-faced BJP issued a clarification, claiming that it was not an official release and someone had “inadvertently” leaked it to the media. But the damage had already been done. Upset over the negative publicity it generated, the former external affairs minister and governor started staying away from BJP activities.

He was briefly seen with BJP leaders during PM Narendra Modi’s election meeting in Bengaluru in last January. BJP state chief BS Yeddyurappa persuaded him to attend his ‘Parivarthana Yathre’ in his home district Mandya in January. A reluctant Krishna participated in just one function in his former Assembly seat Maddur and returned to Bengaluru.

After that, no one has seen him in public and no BJP leader has visited him at his house.

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 to his house 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 is reportedly seeking an Assembly ticket for his younger daughter Shambhavi from Maddur in Mandya district or Rajarajeshwarinagara in Bengaluru. The BJP is yet to confirm it.

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.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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