S.M. Krishna joins BJP

BJP president Amit Shah greets S.M. Krishna in New Delhi on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Former Karnataka Chief Minister S.M. Krishna joined the BJP in the presence of party chief Amit Shah on Wednesday, ending months of speculation on his political plans.

He was expected to join the BJP more than a week ago but could not because of a bereavement in his family. “Even now he was busy with some personal issues, but State BJP chief B.S. Yeddyurappa requested him to give an early date, and also spoke to party president Amit Shah to expedite matters. Yeddyurappaji wants Mr. Krishna to campaign for the BJP for the Nanjangud [reserved] and Gundulpet Assembly seats that are due at the end of March,” a source close to the developments said.

At a crowded hall where a formal joining was effected, Mr. Krishna was flanked by Union Ministers Ananth Kumar, D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Ramesh Jigajinagi, former Karnataka Home Minister R. Ashok and BJP general secretary in charge of Karnataka Muralidhar Rao.

Mr. Yeddyurappa, who had midwifed the whole effort, was absent as he was campaigning in Karnataka for the bypolls.

Mr. Krishna described his joining the BJP as the next stop in his long career in public life. Indeed this is the third political party that he is joining. He first joined the Praja Socialist Party (PSP) on whose ticket he was elected MLA in 1962, before switching over to the Congress.

“When I was Chief Minister between 1999 and 2004, Atal Behari Vajpayeeji was Prime Minister and Ananth Kumarji is witness to the fact that Atalji always had a soft corner for me,” he said. He added that he could see a “great new India emerging under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with the able assistance of BJP president Amit Shah.” He went on to say that as a former Foreign Minister he was aware of the “jealousy with which India is being watched by other countries as it emerges and re-emerges.”

Mr. Shah too was complimentary in his address, assuring Mr. Krishna’s supporters in the audience that his “varishta” (seniority) would be respected in the BJP. Shambhavi, Mr. Krishna’s daughter, accompanied her mother Prema Krishna to the BJP headquarters for the ceremony. When asked whether she would be game for a career in politics, she chose not to comment.

Mr. Krishna's addition to its ranks is being taken as a big coup by the BJP in its efforts to make a comeback in the sole southern State where the party had formed a government. Mr. Krishna is considered an influential leader in the Vokkaliga community, which along with the 19% Lingayat vote is the second biggest dominant caste in Karnataka. Out of the 11 districts of Old Mysore area, Vokkaligas are considered dominant in 89 Assembly seats, out of a total of 224 seats in the Karnataka Assembly.

“We are also counting on his appeal to urban voters in Bengaluru [with 28 seats in the Assembly], which prospered under his regime from 1999 to 2004,” the source said.

The BJP already has influence on the Lingayat community because of Mr. Yeddyurappa.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 2:33:49 PM |

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