SM Krishna opens up on decision to quit Congress

Having decided to end his nearly five decades old association with Congress, former Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna today said the party is in a “state of confusion” on whether it needs mass leaders or not even as he made it clear that he would not reconsider his decision to quit as it was about his “self respect” and “pride”.

He, however, made it clear that he was not retiring from active politics.

“With pain and anguish, I have decided to quit the Congress,” 84-year-old Krishna said.

“A situation has now come wherein I have to leave the home in which I resided peacefully for the last 46 years,” the former External Affairs Minister, who had maintained a low profile for the last two years, told reporters here.

Krishna declined to spell out the next step, saying he had not yet decided on it but said he had no plans to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi as was being speculated in the media.

Noting that the Congress had given “everything” to him, Krishna said, “I have seen both good and bad and tasted sweetness and bitterness but my loyalty to the party has always been steadfast.

“But it now seems the Congress is in a confusion whether it needs mass leaders or not. Just managing the situation seems to be good enough,” he said.

Krishna said he had been haunted by the “question as to how appropriate it was to sideline a loyal Congress worker keeping the age as a factor for it.”

“Age is a question of mental attitude,”, he said, adding “a politician never retires, he only fades away.”

He said the Congress central leaders tried to persuade him to reconsider his decision but he made it plain to them that he stood by it.

“I reminded the leadership that I am still in existence,” he said on a sarcastic note, adding, they said they took note of it.

Krishna made no secret of his unhappiness over the way he had to step down as Minister for External Affairs in 2012 just days before a major ministry revamp, indicating that he expected a ‘graceful’ exit.

“2012 onwards there is a way of getting rid of a political leader. The Congress should learn the art of being graceful.

They could have told me that we are thinking of some drastic step. It would have been a graceful exit,” he said in reply to a query about when his “disillusionment” started.

Asked about his next step, Krishna said, “I am not going to spell out what my future plan is. All that I am reiterating is that I am quitting Congress.”

He said: “This is a decision which I have taken without consulting anyone except my wife. What my next step will be, I will have to ponder, contemplate, introspect and look around and take a decision.”

He also said he was not retiring from politics, adding, “the word retirement is not in my dictionary.”

Krishna said Congress President Sonia Gandhi had given him “special respect.”

Asked about the respect shown by Rahul Gandhi, he shot back, “I will not speak about Vice-President. I will speak about President.”

To a question if he felt Rahul Gandhi was inefficient and a leadership change was needed, Krishna said, “being a national party, we look to the president not to Vice-President, general secretary and some others… Given my seniority in the party, at this stage, I should look to the President, not to others.”