Krishna feels Cong erred by disallowing him to contest election

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New Delhi, May 30 (UNI) Breaking his silence, former Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna has found fault with the Congress for commiting a 'grave blunder' by disallowing him to lead the party from the front in the just concluded Karnataka Assembly elections.

Mr Krishna, who met Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss political situation in the state conceded that he not contesting the elections was a 'crucial mistake'. Had he led the party from the front, the situation would have changed, he told Outlook magazine.

''There is a feeling among the party workers that had they (Congress) declared me as chief ministerial candidate, the party would have performed better. Contesting from anywhere, even in Bangalore would have helped the party,'' he told the interviewer.

He also felt that the party did not cashed in on the 'hype' of he quitting his Governorship in Maharashtra ahead of the assembly polls. ''Not allowing me to enter the state from Belgaum, a city bordering Maharashtra was another cruial error and partially damaged the party's chances of winning,'' he stated.

The Congress won 80 seats in the 224-member Assembly securing higher percentage of votes than the Bharatiya Janata Party which secured 110 seats despite getting less number of total votes in the state than the Congress.

Mr Krishna's assertion also comes in the wake of senior BJP leader L K Advani's observation recently that the Congress would have fared well if it were to project Mr Krishna as its leader to counter BJP's chief ministerial nominee B S Yeddyurappa. Mr Advani even asked the Congress and the UPA to project its leader for the coming Lok Sabha polls.

Political observers feel that Mr Krishna calling on Mrs Gandhi had twin motives. The Karnataka Pradesh Congress will have a new president since its president M Mallikarjuna Kharge has been elected as the leader of the Congress Legislature Party. The post will be crucial as the BJP doesn't possess absolute majority and is dependent on support of six Independent MLAs in a virtually evenly placed Assembly in the event of Congress joining hands with former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular) which has the backing of 28 MLAs.

The second probable reason is that the Congress will soon have to take a decision to nominate its choice for Rajya Sabha. The biennial elections could not be held in the state as it was under President's Rule. Three of the Congress MPs including sitting Minister of State for Planning M V Rajasekharan have retired on completing their term of Rajya Sabha membership.


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