BHOOMI spoken by S M Krishna, Union External Affairs Minister
Karnataka | Posted on May 01, 2012 at 10:28am IST

I felt happy when PM recognised my efforts



Veteran Congressman and Union External Affairs Minister S M Krishna turns 80 years on Tuesday. He has also completed 50 years of his public life. In an interview with S Rajashekara from The New Indian Express, the former chief minister spoke about his career. Excerpts:

50 years in perspective

“My 50 years in public life have been full of ups and downs. When I started my political journey, I never thought that I would make it to what I am today, and occupy all the positions I held. I have realised that general good of the people is the only ism that binds the public good.”

The socialistic ideals (Krishna started as a social democrat in the erstwhile Praja Socialist Party) failed to project even a single leader of the stature of Jayaprakash Narayan. There were too many intellectuals leading to conflict of interests. JP flowered as a leader under Acharya Narendra Dev, but he stayed away from active politics.

He was a casualty of the clash of egos. Later he dedicated himself to Vinobha Bhave’s movement. After witnessing an upsurge, it withered away.

CM post was satisfying

The chief ministership provided me an opportunity to serve the people, to experiment initiatives like mid-day meal scheme for school children and Bhoomi Project to provide land record extracts at the click of a mouse. Though we replicated the mid-day meal scheme of Tamil Nadu, we followed such an effective mass implementation that it caught the attention of the Centre, which replicated it later. Similarly, Bhoomi Project, which won the UN award for e-governance, has been replicated by many states.

Dilution of values

There has been a steady deterioration of standards of leaders as a result of which values have taken a back seat. Gone are the days when leaders used to step down on ethical and moral grounds.

We saw resignations in the recent past as well. But the grounds on which people resigned have to be considered. These resignations were made more on convenience than on commitment.

Electoral reforms

I hold people responsible for this. I have lost many polls, won many more, but money was never a deciding factor. Many contributions were made directly by the people. Today, one makes money to invest and return to power, thereby corrupting the electorate.

Indian democracy is lauded worldwide. But, I strongly feel there is a need for reforms, particularly electoral reforms. The Election Commission should take bold initiatives to check malpractice, and use of money and muscle powers.

Biggest influence

My Father S Mallappa was the biggest inspiration for me. I have seen him functioning as a public figure, (He was the member of the Praja Pratinidhi Sabha in the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom) his focus was on rural education, connectivity, health and communication. They are still part of the unfinished agenda of free India - one thing I wanted to change but couldn’t.

On Bangalore

Bangaloreans should take pride in what the city is today. I promised to turn Bangalore into a Singapore, but the city has its own heritage, legacy and history. Bangalore has grown to such an extent that it has become the envy of many countries. US President Barrack Obama’s repeated remarks at “being Bangalored” is just an example. It is the people who can bring the change and make Bangalore a Singapore.

On Bangalore-Mandya Cauvery Walkathon

Some unconventional decision had to be made to deflate tension arising out of the Cauvery waters dispute between Karnataka and TN. I was concerned about the safety of the Tamilians in Bangalore. I took the decision on the spur of the moment. I told my wife (Prema Krishna) about this only on the eve of the walkathon. It served the purpose, not a single Tamilian was affected in Bangalore.

Happiest moment

When I was Maharashtra Governor, PM Manmohan Singh had come there to attend the Asiatic Conference, held outside New York for the first time. During the drive to the airport, he thanked me. I asked him, “What for?” He said, “You put India into the centre stage through the prism of Bangalore.” I was happy that the good work done had not gone unnoticed.

Wanted to quit politics

After winning the Assembly poll on PSP ticket, I was projected as a state leader. When I sought re-election after two years, I was defeated. Then I thought politics was not for me, and wanted to practise law. Then the Mandya LS bye-election came. I was the unanimous choice against the legendary Shankre Gowda. I won with a thumping margin. I didn’t have the time to implement my decision.

On returning to state politics

I am comfortable as External Affairs Minister. But, if AICC president Sonia Gandhi assigns me a task, I will do that. In 1998, I asked her to give me a chance, and she gave it. I brought the party back to power. In 2004, after the debacle, I was asked to become Governor against my wishes. But I didn’t protest. Even now, if Soniaji gives me a task, I will take it up.

Prema Krishna on SMK

I am comfortable as External Affairs Minister. But, if AICC president Sonia Gandhi assigns me a task, I will do that. In 1998, I asked her to give me a chance, and she gave it. I brought the party back to power. In 2004, after the debacle, I was asked to become Governor against my wishes. But I didn’t protest. Even now, if Soniaji gives me a task, I will take it up.

On returning to state politics

“He never cribs or complains against anyone. He has loads of patience. He never discourages anyone.”

“He was pampered so much during childhood that he didn’t know how to operate a bank account even after marriage.”