The resignation of veteran Congress leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister S.M. Krishna from the party, of which he was a loyalist for over four decades, has come as a rude shock to many political leaders. This is more so as he was instrumental in playing an all-important role in building the party to great heights at the regional level.
It was his rule between 1999 and 2004 that saw the Congress re-emerge as a dominant political party in Karnataka, when he was looked on as a mass leader. Similar to the role played by the former Chief Minister, the late Ramakrishna Hegde, it was Mr. Krishna who took keen interest in the overall development of Bangalore and earned the goodwill of the people.
The development of Bengaluru has since been tardy and less said the better of the Bangalore Development Authority, which he rejuvenated.
That he has exited the Congress in the evening of his life, although he is mentally alert and physically fit, can be regarded as a sad commentary of what is in store for some of the top leaders of political parties, who are viewed as a spent force. Although not in active politics in recent years, particularly after the sudden manner in which he was dropped from Manmohan Singh’s Union Cabinet in 2012 , Mr. Krishna commands respect and can be a good garner of votes to the political party that he represents in the coming elections to the Legislative Assembly. It is this aspect which has perhaps prompted the Congress high command to direct leaders — A.K. Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Ahmed Patel — to prevail upon Mr. Krishna to remain in the Congress.
Announcing his resignation from the Congress, Mr. Krishna has stated that the primary reason for him being sidelined was purported to be his age (84). In Karnataka politics too, the ruling Congress dispensation, under the leadership of Siddaramaiah, has not cared to seek his advice and views on many important matters concerning the State and the Congress. Adding insult to injury is the fact that many of the incumbent Ministers in the Siddaramaiah Cabinet, who were groomed by him, have refrained thus far from openly expressing their support. This includes Minister for Energy D.K. Shivakumar, Minister for Transport R. Ramalinga Reddy, and Minister for Home G. Parameshwara, who also doubles up as the president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee.
Indications are that Mr. Krishna would like to remain in active politics although he is not keen on any position, and it is being stated in some quarters that some top political leaders have sounded him out for a top constitutional post. The president of the Karnataka unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party and former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has spoken to Mr. Krishna and the latter has stated that he is ascertaining the views of his well-wishers before spelling out his decision.
There is no doubt that Mr. Krishna is an important political leader in the region. Any political party that wins him over will stand to enjoy a distinct political advantage in the next round of Assembly elections. The belated attempt of the Congress high command to redress his grievances is unlikely to work.