It was an expected return that never happened. When former Karnataka chief minister and the then External Affairs Minister S M Krishna handed in his resignation in October last year, many had expected him to return to active politics in Karnataka. Almost a year later, all such hopes have been dashed.
The veteran politician seems to have been sidelined in the state unit and forgotten by the Congress.
A seasoned politician and diplomat, Krishna, who turned 81 this year, probably had seen this coming. “I am back to the state, but not sure about the politics of it,” he is said to have remarked to one of his confidants soon after quitting the South Block, say party sources.
“I have been living out of suitcases for the past three-and-a-half years,” he had said on returning to Bangalore and expressed a desire for a quiet life, playing tennis and spending with his grandchildren.
But his followers weren’t ready to let him hang his boots. And subsequently attempts were made to resurrect his sagging political graph. A grand reception was held on his return from Delhi. He was projected as the saviour of Congress in Karnataka prior to the Assembly elections held in May this year.
But with a long list of potential candidates in the state unit, including Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress president G Parameshwara, who nursed ambitions to helm the state, there were hardly any takers for Krishna’s return to state politics.
“He is our senior leader and the party would utilise his services to return to power,” Krishna’s protegee Parameshwara had said, without committing himself on projecting Krishna as the face of the Congress for the Assembly polls.
But his “seniority” and “clout” were completely ignored during the recent Assembly elections. The candidates chosen by Krishna were sidelined and the present Housing Minister and actor M H Ambareesh made sure his followers got tickets. This led to bitterness and groupism in the party’s Mandya unit. As a result of which Krishna distanced himself from the election campaign and chose to canvass in select constituencies to support his followers. However, Krishna being sidetracked didn’t affect Congress’s prospects of returning to power.
After Siddaramaiah took over as Karnataka CM, Krishna was completely brushed aside in party circles. Except for a few of his followers like former minister D K Shivakumar and Parameshwara, who remembered to greet him on his birthday.
However, when attempts were made by the state unit to field outsiders in the Mandya Lok Sabha bypoll last month, Krishna decided it was enough. He shot off a missive to AICC president Sonia Gandhi. In the letter, he suggested that newcomers be made to work for at least two years in the party before handing over big responsibilities to them. This was also an attempt to tell his detractors that he may have retired and been overlooked, but he could not be consigned to oblivion.
After this, Krishna was requested to field either his daughter Shambhavi Hingorani or any of his relatives as the candidate for Mandya bypoll. However, Krishna turned down the offer saying that he no longer had any role to play in the Congress. Something, he probably knew since the day he had been asked to step down as the external affairs minister.