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Home > India > News > Report

S M Krishna to bolster Congress poll campaign in Karnataka

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru | March 05, 2008 11:52 IST
Last Updated: March 05, 2008 13:33 IST

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After much speculation, S M Krishna has finally got the nod to resign as the Governor of Maharashtra. Sources in the Congress say that he may submit his resignation to President Pratibha Patil [Images] at Rashtrapati Bhavan [Images] on Wednesday evening.

This would mean that the former Karnataka chief minister would return to active politics, something that he has been talking about doing for a very long time. Krishna is expected to set up base in Karnataka immediately after he tenders his resignation and would take part actively in the poll campaign on behalf of the Congress in the state.

The go-ahead for Krishna's return to Karnataka was given by All India Congress Committee chief Sonia Gandhi [Images] after senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chauvan returned to New Delhi from Bengaluru on Tuesday. Chauvan was in the city to fine tune the party's preparations for the elections.

Although the Congress opposed early polls in the state, they have got an indication from the Election Commission that polls would be held in May.

So what does Krishna's return mean to the Congress and the state? A section of the Congress is all smiles; they see hope in Krishna's return as they feel he is a seasoned campaigner and an experienced politician. Some party leaders also feel that he will lift the Congress, which has been down in the dumps since the past two years in Karnataka due to the lack of flamboyant politicians.

However, there is already dissent brewing in one section of the party, which feels the party high command has not put any faith in them. The faction headed by Mallikarjuna Kharge, the president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, is definitely unhappy.

Kharge has had his eyes on the post of chief minister for some time now. He missed out first when Krishna became the chief minister and again when Dharam Singh stole the chair at the last minute.

Dharam Singh, who is part of the Kharge camp, too had indicated that if the Congress comes to power, it would Kharge who would assume the post. Singh holds Kharge in high regard as he had stepped aside and allowed him to become the chief minister.

The Congress will have to make their stand clear on Krishna's role in Karnataka. If Krishna is portrayed as a potential candidate for the chief minister's post, not only will there be a split in the party, but they would lose their chance for a post-poll alliance with the Janata Dal-Secular. JD-S chief Deve Gowda's reservations towards Krishna are no secret.

As of now, however, the party high command has said that Krishna would only participate in the poll campaign and that Kharge would be their chief ministerial candidate.

The final decision, however, will depend on the party's showing in the elections. If the Congress wins with an absolute majority, which seems doubtful, there is bound to be a power struggle within the party. Krishna enjoys vast support within the party and leaders in south Karnataka are bound to stick by him.

It remains to be seen what Krishna will be able to accomplish in Karnataka as a campaigner. During the last elections, he refused to contest from his home constituency in Maddur thanks to the Cauvery dispute. He had contested from the Chamrajpet constituency instead and won comfortably. However, he was appointed Governor of Maharashtra, following which, polls were held at his constituency once again, with the Congress losing the seat to the JD-S.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party chose to laugh off Krishna's return as a wasted exercise and a political stunt.

"Let us see what S M Krishna can do? We are waiting to see what difference he can make. It is just an eye wash and we are not affected by it," Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa said.

Yeddyurappa went on to quote senior Congress leaders like, C K Jaffer Sharrief and Hariprasad, who had also termed the return of Krishna as an eyewash. The BJP says the Congress itself is divided in its opinion regarding Krishna's return.

The party also dismissed the Congress strategy to ride high on the recent Union Budget, saying it will in no way help the common man in the long run.