After quitting Cong, SM Krishna takes potshots at leadership
Taking potshots at Congress leadership a day after his exit from the party, former Karnataka Chief Minister and veteran leader S M Krishna on Sunday said it did not need "mass leaders" but only wanted "managers" as he complained of being sidelined due to his age.
"With pain and anguish, I have decided to quit Congress," he stated, adding that "self-respect" was important for him but declined to spell out the next step, saying he would have to think about it.
Stating that Congress had suddenly discovered "I was past my age," 84-year old Krishna said, "Unfortunately it is somebody else who makes up the mind. It is somebody else who decides. Hence I felt for sometime now that Congress does not need me."
"Congress today depends more on managers who can manage the party. They do not want time-tested leaders or time-tested workers like me. Hence I have taken the decision, however painful it has been because today I am going away from a house in which I was familiar," said Krishna. The former External Affairs Minister said he had seen both good and bad and tasted sweetness and bitterness in the party but he had always remained steadfast in his loyalty.
"But it now seems the Congress is in a confusion whether it needs mass leaders or not. Just managing the situation seems to be good enough," he said.
Considered a charismatic leader with pockets of influence in the Vokkaliga belt in the old Mysuru region, Krishna had dashed off a letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi conveying his decision to resign from the primary membership.
With his move, Krishna had stunned the party, which is facing challenges both at the central and state levels.
Caught off guard, the central and state leaders tried to persuade Krishna till the last minute before his press conference to step back, but he made it plain to them that he remained firm on his decision.
"I reminded the leadership that I am still in existence," he said on a sarcastic note, adding, they said they took note of it.
On his next step, he said, "This (quitting) is a decision which I have taken without consulting anyone except my wife.
What my next step will be, I will have to ponder, contemplate, introspect and look around and take a decision."
Krishna also said he was not retiring from politics, adding, "The word retirement is not in my dictionary."
He said Sonia Gandhi had given him "special respect" but took veiled digs at the central leadership. On the respect shown by Rahul Gandhi, he shot back, "I will not speak about Vice-President. I will speak about the President."
To a query if he felt Rahul Gandhi was inefficient and a leadership change was needed, Krishna said, "Being a national party, we look to the President not to Vice-President, General Secretary and some others... Given my seniority in the party, at this stage, I should look to the President, not to others."
On the future of Congress, Krishna said, "I think that is the question that will have to be answered by those who are very active in the Congress.
"They will decide whether there is a future in the Congress party or not, but anyway Congress with a long history of 129, 130, 131 years... well nobody is counting. You can as well say Congress is going to be there," he added. To a query about Congress' credibility, he said, "I don't know whether it is complimented by credibility. That is the big question mark."
Krishna made no secret of his unhappiness over the way he had to step down as Minister for External Affairs in 2012 just days before a major ministry revamp, saying he expected a 'graceful' exit.
"2012 onwards. There is a way of getting rid of a political leader. The Congress should learn the art of being graceful. They could have told me that we are thinking of some drastic step. It would have been a graceful exit," he said in reply to a query about when his "disillusionment" started.
Asked if he would reconsider his decision to quit Congress if Sonia Gandhi makes a request, he said that he would not do it.
"It is a question of self-respect and pride," he said.
He dismissed a question if he was an aspirant for the post of the country's Vice-President and whether he would meet BJP leaders, saying, "Do you think I have gone crazy."
Krishna, who was Karnataka Chief Minister from 1999 to 2004, had returned to state politics after quitting as Minister for External Affairs in 2012.