Soft spoken yet firm, veteran Congress leader Adagur H. Vishwanath, an ardent Congressman and a fan of Mr S.M. Krishna, in an interview with DC, reacted to his resignation from the party and also expressed his opinion about his colleagues in the party and the leadership in the State and at the Centre. While he gave full marks to Mr Siddaramaiah as Chief Minister for his pro-people programmes, he expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that the CM had failed as a leader in taking leaders from all communities together. “Mr Siddaramaiah has not just ignored Mr Krishna but all seniors. Nobody wants to react or question him or the party high command for selfish motives. Mr Siddaramaiah not taking him into confidence, is not a meaningful reason for Mr Krishna to quit. The Congress is not the property of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Siddaramaiah or anyone else. It is the property of the people, so he should have gone to the people. The party has respected him and has given him all constitutional offices except those of President and PM and had he waited, it would have given him that too. So he should not have resigned when the party was weak, he should have guided and strengthened it,” Mr Vishwanath said. Here are excerpts.
You are one among those who like S.M. Krishna the most. What can you make out from the statements he made after resigning from the party?
I like Mr Krishna since my student days. I was one of the members of his cabinet. I was the first man to react to his resignation, though I was in hospital for treatment at Coimbatore. From his statements I feel, he might have been hurt, feeling he was not taken into confidence and the state government neglected him. So being angry or hurt over it, he might have decided to resign. I requested him over telephone to remain in the Congress but he said “it is high time, I do not want to go back”. Had he said, ‘I don’t want anything. I am going to retire from active politics and want to spend the rest of my life peacefully,’ it would have ended there. But now his statement ‘I am resigning from the primary membership of Congress but will continue in active politics’ gives many hints. So people are now asking if he is joining BJP, if he had met PM Narendra Modi. Mr Krishna won’t build any party, he has never done it. So what people say is that Mr Modi might have given him some assurance of a post- President or Vice
President- because he is done with all constitutional positions. But Mr Modi has kept Mr Advani himself at bay. So we are not able to understand anything, not even his followers are revealing anything.
But the issues raised by Mr Krishna are true, aren’t they? Is Siddu consulting the seniors, giving them respect? Your party reconstituted the core committee which never met. You constituted a committee for Bengaluru which never met. Mr Krishna wrote 35 letters to the CM but no one responded. What do you say?
Mr Siddaramaiah has not only neglected Mr S.M. Krishna but all Congress seniors. It is not the question of whether his resignation is right or wrong. His decision is not palatable to the public. When Mr Krishna said, ‘my respect was at stake,’ it means party leaders were not responding. The party has recognised and respected him, it has given him all Constitutional offices except those of President and PM. He was member of the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Central and state minister, Chief Minister, KPCC president and AICC working president. Siddaramaiah is already there as CM, so he can’t be made CM, and he can’t be offered the KPCC president post, for he can’t tour the entire state at 84. Even when he lost the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, he was made Governor of Maharashtra. He enjoyed that too. If he resigned just because Siddaramaiah did not talk to him or did not take him into confidence, it is not a meaningful reason. If the party leaders are not responding, if someone is not taking him into confidence, by virtue of his personality, he should have called party leaders and rectified things instead of resigning.
But I admit that Mr Siddaramaiah or the KPCC president are not taking seniors into confidence. Mr Krishna is the seniormost leader. Seniors have expertise, they have administered the nation as ministers at the Centre. They have authentic knowledge and experience. All seniors including Mr Janardhan Poojari were successful ministers. What is administration? We must take the assistance of those who have ruled the country considering their experience.
But Mr Siddaramaiah defended himself saying he has been inviting all senior leaders of the Congress to all meetings, obtaining their suggestions, opinions, and that he even held a seniors co-ordination committee in which Mr Krishna too participated?
As CM he has to defend himself, he is doing that. But in action, it is not there.
Why are Congress leaders here so meekly accepting the decision, why are they not reacting to the issues Mr Krishna has raised?
Their reaction is based on selfish motives. Nobody wants to talk, nobody wants to discuss what is going on in the party and what is happening in the government. Everybody goes to Mr Krishna’s house, and says, ‘hello sir, you must remain in the party.’ But nobody dares to ask the CM or KPCC President why this has happened. The flattering is all for selfish reasons, everybody wants to be in Mr Siddaramaiah’s good books. They are not admiring Mr Siddaramaiah but his Chief Minister’s office. Even in the high command, nobody is questioning his selfish motives. When they advise, they must also question.
Will Mr Krishna’s resignation affect the party in old Mysuru in future elections?
Some impact is going to be there. Krishna voiced the dissatisfaction of seniors. All are dissatisfied but nobody is voicing it.
People will keep this factor in mind. They might either think that Mr Krishna was not given respect, he was hurt. On the other hand there are people who think that even though the Congress gave him so much, at this stage, he resigned and embarrassed the party. And there will be followers who might say, ‘we should not be in the party in which Mr Krishna is not there.’ Krishna never identified himself as a Vokkaliga, but people from the community may keep it in mind. So the impact will be there, but the degree of the impact can’t be assessed at this point.
If Mr Krishna has voiced the dissatisfaction of seniors, will they follow him?
We are all ardent and strong disciples of the Congress. We will never quit.