India’s former External Affairs Minister and former Karnataka Chief Minister S.M. Krishna on Sunday quit the Congress, saying he was being sidelined by its leadership.
“I have resigned from the Congress to protect my self-respect and dignity after serving it for 46 years, as the high command has sidelined me because of my age,” an emotional 84-year-old Krishna told reporters here.
Clarifying that he was not retiring from politics, Krishna said he had resigned from the party’s primary membership through a letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday.
“I am herewith tendering my resignation (from) the Congress Party,” said the letter.
Asserting that age was a state of mind, Krishna regretted that the high command had removed him as the External Affairs Minister in 2012 without any valid reason.
“Age is a state of mind. It should not be the criterion for deciding one’s capacity to continue to work. A politician never retires. He fades away like a soldier,” noted Krishna.
“I did not consult anyone on leaving the party. And except my wife, I did not tell anyone that I was resigning from the party, though it is a painful moment in my life,” he said.
He said efforts were made by the party’s leadership in Delhi to change his mind.
“I am not retiring from politics though I have quit the Congress, as its future is not bright. Disillusionment with the party started 2012 onwards. There is way of getting rid of political leaders. The party should learn the art of being graceful. They (party leaders) could have told me I am not required. It would have been a graceful exit,” added Krishna.
“I am indebted to the leadership which became aware of my existence after I sent the resignation letter. No change in the decision to quit,” Krishna said.
Krishna was the External Affairs Minister in the second UPA government from 2009 to 2012 after his stint as the Maharashtra Governor from 2005 to 2008 and Karnataka’s Chief Minister from 1999 to 2004.
Krishna was also a Rajya Sabha member from the state from 2009-2016.
Expressing gratitude to Sonia Gandhi for having confidence in him and respecting him for his age and seniority in the party, Krishna said he prayed for her health.
“Sonia gave me lot of respect and I am grateful to her for reposing faith in me,” said Krishna, addressing the media in Kannada and English.
Recalling his nearly five decades of association with the party, which began with Indira Gandhi and continued with Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia, Krishna said he had seen lots of ups and downs in his political career, including winning and losing elections.
“I think the Congress is in crisis now, as it does not have leaders of the stature of Nehru, Indira and Rajiv. It is now managed more by managers than experienced leaders and grass-root workers,” pointed out Krishna.
Noting that generations could change but values do not, Krishna regretted that his sincerity and long association with the party did not matter to those now managing the party at the national and state levels.
“Congress does not need people like me. It depends on managers to manage the party and not on time-tested leaders or workers like me. Hence, I have taken the decision, however painful, I am going out of the house with which I have been so familiar, including its doors and windows,” lamented Krishna.
Asked on his future plans, the veteran leader said he would spell them out after deliberating and consulting his supporters and friends.
“I have not thought about my future plans though I have to move on something else. I will tell you soon after pondering, though ideas can come from any direction,” affirmed Krishna.
Krishna also ruled out meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi as reported in a section of the local media.
“I have no plans to meet the PM,” said Krishna.
Scoffing at speculations over his next political move, Krishna said the time was to introspect, think and contemplate.