Former Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna, who was scheduled to join the BJP in Delhi this week, was forced to return to Bengaluru on Wednesday following his sister’s death. “The joining has been postponed for now. It will happen at a later date,” a Krishna aide said. Krishna had travelled to Delhi this week for his induction into the party after meeting BJP leader Amit Shah. Karnataka BJP president B S Yeddyurappa had invited Krishna to join the party on March 6. Krishna, 84, quit the Congress in January after a 46-year association with the party alleging neglect after he resigned as external affairs minister in 2012.
“No party, where age and experience are not valued, will have a great future. Age has to be valued. Out of sadness and grief I have taken a decision to leave the Congress and I will stick to it,” he had said on January 29. There has been speculation over Krishna getting a Rajya Sabha seat or a BJP vice-president’s post. BJP sources and Krishna’s aides have insisted that he was joining the party without preconditions. Some Congress leaders suggested that Krishna was joining the BJP since some of his family members were under the scanner of government agencies.
Krishna is expected to campaign for the BJP in April 9 Assembly bypolls in Mysore’s Nanjangud and the Gundlupet, which the party has described as a mini referendum on Karnataka’s Congress government in Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s backyard. The BJP is of the view that a defeat of the Congress in Siddaramaiah’s stronghold would set the tone for the 2018 assembly elections.
Krishna’s entry is not expected to dramatically change political equations in Karnataka but is going to cause a loss in terms of perception. Krishna does not command a strong base. But he enjoys good standing in his Vokkaliga community in Karnataka’s southern districts, where the BJP has traditionally lagged behind the Congress and the Janata Dal Secular.
The Congress has of late created an impression that it supports backward castes, minorities and Dalits more than dominant castes in Karnataka: Lingayats and Vokkaligas, who account for around 32 per cent of the state’s population. The BJP has traditionally been viewed as a party of the Lingayats. By inducting Krishna, the BJP is attempting to change the perception that it is a Lingayat-dominated party.