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The Rediff Election Interview/S M Krishna
May 13, 2004
The grey colour of S M Krishna's waistcoat matched his downcast mood as he handed in his resignation as Karnataka's chief minister to the governor soon after noon on Thursday.
"A Congress cyclone, not just a wave, hit all parts of India today," he said, a tight smile on his sombre face. "But cyclones do not hit every state. It's a pity it passed Karnataka by."
Krishna has already resigned, much before the final assembly results are out in his home state. After his personal victory in the Chamrajpet assembly constituency was declared just before noon, he went to the home of elder daughter Malavika Hegde in Sadashivanagar.
Perhaps Krishna should have made the word drought his personal password.
Then, he might have remembered every day to do something to improve the plight of the drought-stricken in Karnataka, and won back power.
Krishna himself holds the severe drought that affected large parts of interior Karnataka responsible for the mandate against him, in a conversation with Contributing Special Correspondent M D Riti and other journalists.
Why did you resign so soon?
The people have rejected me in Karnataka. This is the sum total of the deduction I have made. So I resigned at once.
What do you think went wrong for you?
I never expected this result! Our Congress leadership, and I personally, must now analyse what went wrong.
Are you happy with your personal victory margin over your BJP and JD(S) rivals?
As soon as I heard that I was leading by even one vote, I tuned out. It does not matter to me by what margin I won.
What do you hold responsible for the Congress rout here?
Drought, pure and simple. Out of the five years the Congress ruled Karnataka, there was drought for three years! We handled it as best as we could. But the people are naturally angry about all the hardship they endured. And they made me their scapegoat.
Or maybe they were plain angry that you chose to interest yourself in information technology and biotechnology instead of in drought and farmers' suicides.
No, I disagree with that statement. I was constantly working on trying to alleviate the problems of the drought-struck area. But you can fight mother nature only thus far.
Do you regret you decided to dissolve the assembly early and go in for an election?
The decision was correct for the time I took it. I made a certain judgement call at that time. Maybe it was the wrong call. But then, our prime minister Vajpayeeji took a wrong call too!
Did the exit of S Bangarappa from the Congress just before the election cost the party a lot?
All I can say is that Bangarappa supported his younger Madhu (BJP) against his older son Vasant Kumar (Congress), and Vasant Kumar won! Doesn't say much for Bangarappa's clout in even his home constituency, does it?!
What is your take on a party like the BJP, which you have always described as non-secular, forming the government in Karnataka?
I have my personal views on this, which I will tell you later. I do not want to talk about that now.
Are you planning to meet your old friend H D Deve Gowda today, to discuss a coalition?
I will meet Deve Gowda whenever I like, in my personal capacity. I am a free man now, I am no longer chief minister. I can go where my feet take me, I no longer have to bother about security or anything else!
Will the software industry suffer with your exit?
Of course not. A change in the personality occupying the chief minister's chair should not affect anything. Investment flowing into Bangalore will not be affected, for starters. Job creation and increased economic activity will continue.
Image: Uday Kuckian