Bengaluru: Veteran Congress leader and former Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna on Sunday said he is leaving the Congress—a party he has been associated with almost half a century—after being “sidelined" from active affairs.

Terming it as a “very painful moment," Krishna said that the party had treated him in a way which hurt his self-respect and honour. “A situation has now come wherein I have to leave the home in which I resided peacefully for the last 46 years," he said.

The decision could dent the Congress’s chances of retaining power in the state in the 2018 assembly elections as 84-year-old Krishna still commands considerable influence in Mysore, Mandya and Bengaluru among other regions.

Krishna, removed as minister for external affairs in 2012 and replaced by Salman Khurshid, said, “There is a way of getting rid of political leaders. Congress should learn the art of being graceful in whatever they do."

The veteran politician, who has also served as governor of Maharashtra, said he will now be moving on to “something else". He did not give details but said that “retirement is not in my dictionary". 

“As we move forward, I think, light could come from any direction. Today, I am not in a position to spell out future plans," Krishna told reporters at his residence in Bengaluru. He said that he will have to “ponder, introspect and contemplate" before taking the next step.

Krishna said that he only consulted his wife regarding his decision even though many leaders from Delhi and in the state had reached out to him to rethink his move. He said that he reminded Delhi of his existence.

“Congress party will exist due to its history but whether credibility will be associated with party is a question mark," he said while adding that the future of the party that does not respect its seniors is bleak.

Krishna was one of the star campaigners in the 2013 elections in which the Congress swept to power in the state.

He said he had been sidelined for many years now but he took his own time to reach this decision.

“Age should not be a criteria for deciding what the situation needs," Krishna said, while adding; “Of late, I am inclined to feel that they (Congress party) are dependent on managers and not time-tested people like me."

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and other Congress leaders on Saturday claimed no knowledge of Krishna’s decision.

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President and working president did not respond to calls seeking comment.

A spokesperson of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) said that the high command will reach out to Krishna as there is a lot of respect for him within the party. “He is an ageing elder and has expressed his pain, we will respond," the spokesperson said requesting not to be identified. The leader, who is closely associated with Karnataka’s workings said that the state government had not sidelined Krishna and would consult the octogenarian leader on many issues. Siddaramaiah had met Krishna for his views on the Cauvery water dispute in September last year.

R.V.Deshpande, Karnataka minister for medium and large-scale industries and infrastructure said, “His decision to quit the congress party is unfortunate. I with my colleagues met him yesterday night and requested to reconsider his decision. I urge him very strongly to reconsider his decision in the interest of the nation and also the Congress party where he has a large following."

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