Bengaluru: Making no secret of his ‘dislike’ for AICC vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, Congress veteran leader, S.M. Krishna on Sunday quipped that there are youngsters who are at the age of 46 inactive, while at the age of more than 80, “people like me can still be very active.”
Speaking to reporters here, Mr Krishna remarked, "I have struggled for the party since the days of Indira Gandhi, when her government was in a minority. Given my seniority in the party, at this stage, I should look to the party president, not the vice-president (Rahul), general secretary and some others."
In response to another question on Mr Rahul, Mr Krishna asserted "I will not speak about the vice-president. I will speak about the president (Sonia Gandhi)."
On the future of the Congress, Mr Krishna observed, "I think that is the question that will have to be answered by those who are active in the Congress. Anyway the Congress with a long history of 129, 130, 131 years...well nobody is counting how old the party is. You can as well say Congress is going to be there."
To a query about Congress' credibility, he said, "I don't know whether it is complimented by credibility. That is the big question mark."
Mr Krishna asserted that age was a state of mind. "Age should not be a criteria for deciding what the situation needs. There are people who are inactive even when young. The ultimate test is your intent. When I toured the state during the last Assembly elections nobody thought I was old. Suddenly, they have discovered that I am old and need rest. Unfortunately it is somebody else who makes up the mind. It is somebody else who decides I am aged. Hence I felt that for some time now, the Congress does not need me," he rued.
Mr Krishna quickly added that he reminded his party top leaders that he still exists and it was duly recognised too. "When I sent my resignation letter, to Congress President Sonia Gandhi conveying my decision to resign. I reminded the leadership that I am still in existence," he said in a sarcastic tone, adding, they took note of it.
Asked if he was not deserting the Congress at a time when it was facing severe challenges, he said, "There is a difference between ditching and quitting. I am not ditching the party but I am quitting the party. I have struggled for the party for 46 years," he said and added that Mrs Gandhi had special respect for him throughout his career.
Mr Krishna felt the Congress was in a "state of confusion" on whether it needs mass leaders and appears to be content with "party managers".
Even as he made it clear that he would not reconsider his decision to quit as it was about his "self respect" he vociferously argued that he was not retiring from active politics.
Reminiscing about his political journey which started in 1962, Mr Krishna pointed out that he had always swum against the tide and during his first election in 1962, no less than Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru came down to Maddur to campaign against him.
Pandit Nehru's towering campaign could not stop the 26-year-old young man from winning an election even at that time, Mr Krishna recalled.
‘Those at the helm of affairs in state should take all along’
Launching a veiled attack on chief Minister Siddaramaiah with whom his relations have been anything but rosy, Congress party veteran and former external affairs minister, S. M. Krishna on Sunday asserted that those who are at the helm of affairs must try to take everyone along.
“At least I have a sense of pride as I did it with all gusto during my tenure as the chief minister of this state,” he remarked.
Speaking to reporters at his residence in Bengaluru, Mr Krishna was careful in not taking any state leader's name throughout his press conference but did not forget cryptically to lash out at his detractors.
"When I speak about my achievements, I take great pride in being regarded as a leader by every community that lives in this state. Incidentally, I happened to be born in the Vokkaliga community, but I never showed or tried to portray myself as a community leader, instead I always strove hard to loved by every community in the state. I succeeded in that too," he said.
When asked to explain, Mr Krishna said that if any leader had to be loved or respected, he or she should behave impartially.
"I do not say that people who are at the helm of affairs need to carry everyone on his or her shoulder, but one must strive hard to become a leader without spreading hatred or disrupting communal harmony," he said.
Taking an indirect swipe at CM Siddaramaiah, Mr Krishna said, "I always treated myself as the Congress party's loyal worker. I did the same, when a section of leaders from Karnataka came to me when I was functioning as the governor of Maharashtra, I hosted them in Raj Bhavan, and then went and discussed with All India Congress Committee (AICC) president, Sonia Gandhi, how his (Not even taking Mr Siddaramaiah's name) entry would help the Congress party in future. That is when everything changed for him (Siddaramaiah). But that is all in the past, now it does not matter, I did all this in my capacity as a party worker, I have never considered that I did this in my capacity as a leader."
Not planning new outfit. And why should I meet Mr Modi?
Scotching rumours about floating a new outfit or having a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the near future, former external affairs minister, S. M. Krishna on Sunday dismissed such speculation.
Speaking to reporters here at his plush bungalow in the city here, Mr Krishna rebutted claims made in the media on Sunday describing them as highly speculative in nature.
"Yes, I would have definitely thought of launching a new outfit or reviving the Praja Socialist Party had I been 20 years younger but certainly I will not do it now. About the speculated meeting with the PM, why would I meet him?"
Strongly dismissing queries related to the buzz that he was an aspirant for the post of the country's vice-president, a post which will fall vacant this year, Mr Krishna quipped, "Do you think I have gone crazy?"
He however, quickly added that he had not planned his next step yet, "It is a time for introspection for me-a process that will involve family and friends. I have no plans to meet the PM. All are speculating. I am not in a position to spell out what my future plan is," Mr Krishna said cryptically.
The former CM added that he had been feeling for some time that the Congress did not need him. "They do not want time-tested leaders and workers like me," said Mr Krishna said and pointed out that he had won elections and had been defeated but had never been sidelined lin this manner....