People flood the street to get a glimpse of the former Chief Minister

Coming out of his shell for the first time after his sudden exit from the Union Ministry, the former Chief Minister S.M. Krishna launched his election campaign on Sunday in Vijayanagar and Govindarajnagar Assembly constituencies for the Congress at the Sri Lakshminarasimha temple in the area.

Hundreds of people, including Congress workers and residents, flooded the street adjoining the Lakshminarasimha temple at Attiguppe waiting to get a glimpse of the former Chief Minister.

Even as the former Minister arrived two hours after the scheduled time, party workers and residents continued to wait patiently in the blazing sun. Mr. Krishna was welcomed by Congress workers amid loud firecrackers with Congress flags flying high up in the air. He first visited the Lakshminarasimha temple and performed rituals before kick-starting his campaign for M. Krishnappa contesting elections from Vijayanagar and his son Priyakrishna who is contesting from Govindrajnagar.

Addressing presspersons inside the temple, he brushed away speculation that the Congress had sidelined him, he said, “I am happy with the responsibility that the party has given me.”

Asked who the Congress’ Chief Ministerial candidate was, he said that it was too early to comment on the issue.

Later, addressing a huge crowd gathered outside the temple along with the father- son candidate by his side, Mr. Krishna used the opportunity to read out a long list of schemes introduced during his tenure as Chief Minister.

“The midday meal scheme across schools and the Yeshasvini health scheme to provide healthcare assistance to farmers were started by the Congress,” he said.

Defending the stance he had taken and the policies he had introduced as Chief Minister, he said, “People have often called me as the hi-tech Chief Minister. What is wrong in being hi-tech. Don’t we all use, telephone and electricity.”

The crowd comprising Congress workers and local residents broke into loud applauses every few minutes. The voices of the crowds who screamed slogans grew louder when Mr. Krishna took digs at the performance of the Bharatiya Janata Party government. “People want change. They are tired of the BJP. Have you heard of any Chief Minister going to jail? Several Congress leaders had gone to jail during the freedom struggle.

“But in Karnataka, the BJP Ministers are going to jail for all the wrong reasons,” he said. Then, Mr. Krishna and Congress leaders, including Mr. Priyakrisha and Mr. Krishnappa, took out a day-long rally across Vijaynagar and Govindrajnagar urging people to vote for the Congress.