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Despite requests by top leaders, SM Krishna refuses to return to Congress

New Delhi: Refusing to budge, former Karnataka chief minister SM Krishna today said quitting the Congress was a “closed chapter” even as top leaders of the party tried in vain to win him back into the fold.

Seeking to cash in on the development that stunned the Congress, the BJP too is making attempts to reach out to Krishna, stating that the party will benefit if the octogenarian decides to join it. “…it is a closed chapter,” Krishna told reporters here when questioned about the attempts by the Congress high-command to persuade him to reverse his decision.

On his reported telephonic conversation with Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, on an invite for talks with her, Krishna said, “I can speak to Sonia Gandhi anytime. My cordial relationship with her will continue.” Taking potshots at the Congress leadership a day after his exit from the party, Krishna had yesterday said it did not need “mass leaders” but only wanted “managers” as he complained of being sidelined due to his age.

“With pain and anguish, I have decided to quit Congress,” he had stated, adding that “self-respect” was important for him, but declined to spell out the next step saying he would have to think about it. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today requested Krishna to withdraw his resignation in the interest of the party and the state.

He said, “SM Krishna has been in the Congress for a long time, about 45-46 years. He has held various positions including that of the chief minister, Central minister, party president, Governor and Assembly Speaker. He is a respected politician. “My appeal is that he should not leave the Congress at this stage. He should withdraw his resignation in the interest of the party and the state.”

Sources say several disgruntled Congress leaders are contemplating to raise a banner of revolt against Siddaramaiah and the party’s leadership following Krishna’s resignation.

Dissidence had been simmering within the party following the chief minister’s decision to sack 14 ministers and induct 13 members into his council of ministers in June, 2016. Another party veteran and former Karnataka Congress chief Janardhana Poojary, describing Krishna’s resignation as “a big blow and loss” to the party, lashed out at Siddaramaiah for his “arrogance”.

Meanwhile, Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa said he would meet Krishna soon and invite him to the party. He said, “SM Krishna is a senior political veteran; he has resigned from Congress’ primary membership. I wanted to meet him today, but he is going to Mandya. I will try to meet him.” Stating that Krishna had made it clear that he was not retiring from politics, Yeddyurappa said, “It is our natural wish that he should come along with us. Let us see, what he will decide…I am ready to welcome him to the party. If he comes, it will add more strength to us,” he added.

Not wishing to comment on Yeddyurappa’s wish to meet him, Krishna said he was travelling to his native Maddur in Mandya district.