New Delhi: Former Karnataka chief minister and union minister S.M. Krishna is likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the coming days, marking the 84-year-old Congressman’s return to active politics after a gap of nearly two years.
The move would not only embarrass the Congress both at the national and state level, but will also help strengthen the BJP election campaign in Karnataka for assembly elections due in May 2018. Krishna is due to meet BJP president Amit Shah in the coming days.
“S.M. Krishna was the senior most Congress leader from Karnataka; so if he joins the BJP, it would demoralize the Congress unit in the state; this is an indication that the Congress doesn’t respect its senior leaders who now have to look towards other parties, especially BJP. It will help the BJP project that senior leaders are coming to the party because the prospects of Congress are declining," a senior BJP leader from Karnataka said.
Has BJP become destination of choice for Congress dissidents in Karnataka?
Krishna is a veteran Congressman and former external affairs minister who worked under prime ministers Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh and enjoyed a good equation with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Krishna belongs to the politically dominant Vokkaliga community and his entry is being eyed by the BJP for two reasons: the party hopes it will not only add to its strength before elections, but also help repair some of the damage done by the continuing bitter infighting between former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and former deputy chief minister K.S. Eshwarappa.
“Senior leaders of the party fear that because of the internal tussle between two factions of the state leadership, the message to the people would be that BJP is not stable. But with Krishna in the BJP, the party would be able to highlight the infighting within Congress and in a way hide its own shortcomings before the polls," the BJP leader added.
Congress leaders say Krishna has been annoyed with the party leadership since 2014 when it failed to renominate him for the Rajya Sabha after his term ended.
“He is one of the seniormost leaders in Karnataka but he has chosen to move on even as Congress has done so much for him. At 84, he is seen as a retired politician. This is a loss to him, not to the Congress party," a senior Congress leader from the state said, requesting anonymity.
“He belongs to the Vokkaliga community but so do most of our Karnataka leaders and legislators. Irrespective of his presence or absence, that community will be as divided as ever," the leaders added.