National

SM Krishna joins BJP; move to boost party’s Karnataka fortunes

Venkatesan R | | Updated on: Jan 15, 2018
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Former CM and Cong leader is expected to help BJP tap into Vokkaliga votes

Former Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna joined the BJP on Wednesday, severing his nearly 50-year association with the Congress. He was welcomed into the party by BJP National President Amit Shah, and Union Ministers from Karnataka Ananth Kumar and DV Sadananda Gowda.

Krishna, who was External Affairs Minister in Manmohan Singh’s UPA-I Cabinet, had quit the Congress in January. “I felt that Congress doesn’t need me; the party now depends on managers. They do not want time-tested leaders and workers,” the party veteran had said then. Krishna had also served as Maharashtra Governor. As Karnataka Chief Minister from 1999 to 2004, Krishna is credited with shaping brand Bengaluru by giving an impetus to IT/ITeS and biotechnology sectors.

Vokkaliga void With elections due early next year, the BJP will now have to decide how to best utilise the 84-year-old Krishna’s services.

A senior BJP worker told BusinessLine that Krishna would help the party fill up the void in leadership from the Vokkaliga community, and also bring in the urban-savvy outlook for which he was known.

The BJP has been solely dependent on Sadananda Gowda, R Ashok and CT Ravi to pull Vokkaliga votes for the party, but they have not grown beyond their neighbourhood.

Gowda, who hails from Dakshina Kannada, is well-known in the Mangaluru region, but has no influence in old Mysore.

His clean image helped him become Chief Minister briefly, and also clinched the job of Union Law Minister.

R Ashok, a legislator from Bengaluru, has his influence limited to the city and has made a mark as deputy chief minister. Ravi hails from Chikamagaluru district and is the youth face of the party.

In comparison, Krishna’s influence is far greater, has considerable support and is well-known throughout the State.

He has the ability to call the shots, has administrative acumen and the ability to mobilise the party, especially in the crucial old Mysore region, where BJP is weak at the moment.

For the Congress, Krishna’s exit is likely to trigger an exodus as he has commands considerable heft within the party.

Published on March 22, 2017
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