'High inflation can be a factor in Karnataka polls: Krishna

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New Delhi, Apr 5 (UNI) Senior Congress leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna today accepted that seven per cent inflation and high prices can be factors in the three phase Karnataka Assembly elections scheduled for next month, but contended that the party would do well despite all the problems.

In an interview with the CNN-IBN to be telecast tomorrow night, the former CM said he would not rule out that inflation was going to be a factor. However, it was an issue to be handled by the the Centre. "I will not rule it out as not going to be a factor. We have factored that also in our assessment,'' he said.

Mr Krishna, who returned to active politics after a stint as Maharashtra Governor, recently claimed that his party would do well despite all problems and did not expect the BJP to gain from the sympathy wave. "I think they (BJP) peaked in 2004 and have no further to go," he said.

Giving his reasons for the Congress debacle last time, Mr Krishna said the state had four successive droughts, the Cauvery tussle and the Veerappan problem which all had made voters 'restless'.

Notwithstanding nine chief ministerial contenders within Congress, he said there was only one post. The Congress, he said had mastered the art of choosing chief ministers without upsetting the apple cart.

Asked if he was a candidate for CM's job, he said he would act as per the advice of the Congress High Command.

To a suggestion if he would be upset if the post were to go to Karnataka Congress chief M Mallikarjuna Kharge, Mr Krishna replied "certainly not certainly not".

He side-stepped the state unit cold shouldering his re-entry into active politics after he demitted the Office as Governor of Maharashtra, Mr Krishna said he did not expect a 'great welcome' and he had taken up his job as President of the Management and Campaign Committee at the behest of the Congress High Command.

His job entailed bringing coordination in the party. "You will be surprised that we shall succeed", he told.

Asked if the Karnataka Congress president Mallikarjuna Kharge and Congress leader M Veerappa Moily had sought postponement of elections, Mr Krishna replied in the affirmative and remarked that all other parties including the BJP would have welcomed a delayed elections.

A fool-proof electoral roll is a must for a fair election. The BJP, he contended, was showing its happiness over early elections for 'outside consumption'.

On the Hogenakkal project, the former CM indicated that the state would not hesitate to approach the Supreme Court if Tamil Nadu insisted on going ahead with the controversial project even it meant souring relations within the ruling UPA coalition.

He said Hogenakkal was an inter-state water dispute and the state could always approach the apex court to defend Karnataka's rights on Cauvery if there was no other alternative.

Asked if Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would allow Karnataka leaders to upset DMK, a key ally of the UPA, he replied "We are not really concerned whether DMK is going to upset or it is going to have an impact on Central Government. All we are concerned is how this project affects Karnataka in terms of sharing water between the two states ...

Karnataka has the responsibility to safeguarding its interests and these concerns will have to be addressed by TN.'' "I have repeatedly suggested that Karnataka will have a popular government in two months and heavens are not going to fall", he added.

Regarding the announcement of Mr Karunanidhi putting the Hogenakkal issue in the hold, Mr Krishna welcomed it and said he had spoken to the CM after that and said he was expecting such a gesture from elderly statesman.

''I think this will lay a solid foundation for good neighbourly relations between the two states,'' he added.

JUNI MCN SG KP1882

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