I was considered for PM post in 2004: S.M. Krishna – The Hindu

Posted: January 8, 2020 at 8:46 am


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The suave and U.S.-educated politician S.M. Krishna was actually being considered for the prime ministerial post in 2004 by the Congress when he was the Chief Minister of Karnataka, according to his own disclosure.

In his autobiography titled Smrithivaahini, which is set to be released on January 4 in Bengaluru, the 87-year-old former External Affairs Minister, who severed his nearly five-decade association with the Congress and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2017, has recalled that this piece of information had been shared by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself.

Before the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Mr. Singh had told his college-mate and economist K. Venkatagiri Gowda (who hails from Karnataka) that Mr. Krishna was doing good work in Karnataka as Chief Minister and either he [Mr. Singh] or Mr. Krishna will become the Prime Minister if the Congress-led UPA comes to power in 2004, says the book.

Mr. Gowda had later discussed this with his close circles, the former Chief Minister notes. However, the Congress which went to Assembly polls in Karnataka in 2004 under the leadership of Mr. Krishna, who had drawn the attention of the country with his work as the Chief Minister, lost the elections.

Mr. Krishna says in the book that former Prime Minister and Janata Parivar leader H.D. Deve Gowda had tried to join the Congress twice.

According to him, Mr. Deve Gowda had visited his ministerial quarters in an autorickshaw during the Emergency when D. Devaraj Urs was the Chief Minister. He conveyed his desire to join the Congress, while expressing displeasure over lack of unity among the Opposition parties. But I told him that it was not nice on his part to join the Congress as he had made serious allegations against Mr. Urs and vowed to prove them too, he says, and adds that Mr. Gowda accepted his advice.

Again in the 80s, he himself had made efforts to woo Mr. Gowda and S.R. Bommai to the Congress after the then Prime Minister Charan Singh quit, Mr. Krishna says. He had even organised a meeting between them and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee. But the two leaders from Karnataka did not come back after that, he recalls.

Mr. Krishna, who hails from the dominant Vokkaliga community, has said that Mr. Gowda used to telephone him several times for transfers of officials and other issues when he became Chief Minister in 1999. I had given standing instructions to my secretary M.K. Shankaralinge Gowda to okay all works sought by Mr. Gowda. But Mr. Krishna has expressed disappointment that despite this, no bonding emerged between him and Mr. Gowda. Perhaps, I may have erred by not creating an opportunity to sit across the table with Mr. Gowda to discuss various issues. Because of this, the gap between us started increasing. I cannot remember him having any soft corner for me when I was the Chief Minister, he says.

S.M. Krishna, who studied postgraduation in law in the U.S. by obtaining Fulbright Scholarship, has recalled his association with The Hindu in his autobiography.

Ours was the only house (in Somanahalli of Maddur taluk in Mandya district) to get The Hindu in those days, Mr. Krishna recalls. Though his father never had college education, he was able to read and understand The Hindu, he says in the book.

S.M. Krishna, who has quit the Congress and joined the BJP, has showered praises on Congress top leader Sonia Gandhi in his autobiography.

Sonia Gandhi is a person who has fundamentally loved Indian culture from the bottom of her heart, he says in the book.

The reference to her has been made in connection with a request by a monk from the Belagavi branch of Ramakrishna Ashram to him as the then Chief Minister to grant land in Belagavi to the ashram to build a memorial as Swami Vivekananda had stayed in that house during his visit in 1892.

The Chief Secretary had turned down the request as that land belonged to the government guesthouse. But the matter had reached Ms. Gandhi, who in turn told Mr. Krishna that it was better to give the land to the ashram, he says.

Following this, Mr. Krishna not only issued an order transferring the land to the ashram, but also got a copy of the order issued to the ashram from Ms. Gandhi during her visit to the State, he says.

The conflict between the judiciary and legislature was witnessed in the 1950s too when Kengal Hanumanthaiah was the Chief Minister, according to former Chief Minister S.M. Krishna.

In his autobiography, he has narrated how the then Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Medhappa had taken up a contempt of court case against Mr. Hanumanthaiah in connection with an incident. Both were strong personalities who were not willing to take a back seat.

Finally, the Chief Justice was about to retire on a Saturday and he wanted to pronounce the order on Friday. But following the advise of his lawyer that such a situation may result in him going to jail owing to paucity of time to file an appeal before the Supreme Court, Mr. Hanumanthaiah used the special power vested in the government to declare a holiday for the High Court on Friday.

This resulted in Mr. Medhappa retiring without pronouncing the order, Mr. Krishna recalls.

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I was considered for PM post in 2004: S.M. Krishna - The Hindu

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January 8th, 2020 at 8:46 am

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