[This piece was written before the allocation of portfolios. SM Krishna has now been appointed as the Foreign Minister of India]
Today, I am elated to learn that Sonia Gandhi has finally decided to rehabilitate SM Krishna to his rightful place in the power hierarchy. He could well make a mark as India’s Foreign/Commerce Minister (whichever is eventually offered to him), what with his vision for technology, reformist mindset and more importantly, having a better understanding than most in the Congress party of India’s emerging place in the new global order — be it globalization or the war on terrorism.
My secret wish is to see him at the helm of Foreign Ministry, enlightening Barack Obama why shipping Bangalore’s jobs to Buffalo would spell doom to Silicon Valley, CA. Of course, I am mindful that I have no voice in 10, Janpath. It is a no-brainer that he’ll get along well with Hillary Clinton given his polished and suave personality and openly-expressed admiration for her husband. I’m not so sure how he’ll deal with China or Pakistan, but he deserves a chance to prove himself on the world stage.
Let me give you a quick brief about SM Krishna, for those of you not aware of him. He was the Chief Minister of my native state Karnataka in the early 2000’s. Karnataka, and especially Bangalore, was fortunate to have such a personality during the height of DotCom boom across the world. He brought global attention to the then-sleepy and unknown city of Bangalore overnight. Bangalore boomed as the Silicon Valley of India, creating IT jobs for youth from every nook and corner of the country. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he is single-handedly responsible for what we know of Bangalore today — for others who occupied Karnataka CM’s chair before and after him have done precious little; some have even actively engaged in destroying the good image of the city. While there is some merit to the argument that his focus on Bangalore came at the cost of rural development, one cannot deny that Bangalore’s economy has had a spill-over effect on Hyderabad and other second-rung cities like Mysore, Mangalore, and rural Karnataka.
After Krishna’s defeat in Karnataka Assembly 2004, the treatment meted out to him over the last five years, on the pretext of keeping Deve Gowda and his rivals in Karnataka Congress mollified, was quite unbecoming of Congress High Command. He was demonized for being ‘elite’ and ‘urbane’, and made solely responsible for the defeat. As a punishment, he was unceremoniously dispatched to Mumbai’s Raj Bhavan — despite his clear indication that he had many more years left in active politics. After his stint in Maharashtra, he was sidelined in Karnataka politics too, for the fear that he would drive away rural voters. As a matter of fact, ever since his departure, it is the Congress party that has been sidelined by voters all across Karnataka, both urban and rural.
Let bygones be bygones; there is little to gain by crying foul over sour grapes of the past. Except that we should recognize that — Bangalore, hence Karnataka, and India to an extent, failed to use the services of a visionalry administrator for five long years, when age and energy was on Krishna’s side. I am nevertheless relieved that in 2009, Manmohan Singh and Sonia-Rahul duo have finally come to appreciate that Krishna would be a welcome addition to the Indian cabinet, especially after a historic mandate for Congress party, which has come with the additional burden of responsibility to deliver and live upto the immense expectations of aam aadmi.