With SM Krishna exiting from the Union Cabinet, ostensibly to strengthen the Karnataka Congress, questions are being raised whether the former chief minister can make a difference in the poll-bound state politics. With his designer suits and trendy pocket scarves, Krishna is seen as urbane in Bangalore, but its a different story in rural Karnataka. He has been out of touch with the state’s political topography. Being from the Vokkaliga community, the Congress hopes he may brighten Congress’s chances in the Assembly election in 2013. But Krishna seems to be in no hurry. He says he need “some rest” after travelling eight lakh kilometers as the Foreign Minister.
A comeback may not be easy for the former chief minister; Krishna will have to tackle the rivalries from within the Congress party. Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah, former Union minister CK Jaffer Sharief and former KPCC president RV Deshapande are among those who may not like Krishna returning to the state’s politics. Siddaramaiah has already expressed his wish to occupy the Chief Minister’s chair (see box). Even Krishna’s protégé, KPCC president Dr G Parameshwar, may not be keen to see Krishna hovering around.
However, no one from the Congress is openly opposing Krishna. “He (Krishna) would play a crucial role in bringing the party to back to power,” said Parameshwar. He stressed that Krishna would definitely come handy in strengthening the party in the state. Parameshwar also declared that he is ready to work under Krishna. Recalling Krishna’s role as the Chief Minister, he said, “Krishna’s far-sighted decision to create conclusive atmosphere to take root the fledging Information Technology and Bio Technology sector has put Karnataka in the centre stage in the country’s economy.”
Similar sentiment was expressed by Opposition leader in the Karnataka Legislative Council SR Patil who felt Krishna “will help to unite the warring factions in the party as Krishna commands respects from all.” Echoing the similar sentiments, former Congress Working Committee member Smt Motamma said that “Krishna’s clean image will help the party.” But no one really knows whether the 81-year-old politician can get rid of the rust on his chakra. So far, he has not declared his intentions clearly. One doesn’t know whether Krishna wants to be in active politics or have a mentoring role. He ostensibly left the Union cabinet to give way to the younger generation, and not surprisingly BJP leader DV Sadananda Gowda was quick to point that out. “Krishna has left the Union cabinet, saying he wants to give way to younger generation, and how can he be different in state politics,” Gowda wondered. Moreover, Krishna’s re-entry may badly affect the Congress’s prospect among the Lingayats who are under the spell of BS Yeddyurappa. Perhaps keeping all factors in mind, the Congress high command is silent on Krishna’s role. Sources within the Congress say that Krishna can change little. The only ones who may be worried about the former External Affairs minister may be the father-son duo of HD Deve Gowda and HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S). Krishna may just make a dent in the JD(S) support base among the Vokkaligas. Otherwise, the fate of a former general of the Congress party in Karnataka may just remain a subject of media speculation.