Saturday, 27 October 2012

Krishna quits after call from PMO

Krishna quits after call from PMO
Clean Media Correspondent

New Delhi, Oct 27 (CMC) External Affairs Minister S M Krishna resigned on Friday, after reportedly receiving a call from Prime Minister’s office asking him to cancel his four-day tour of France scheduled to begin on Satuday.

Krishna’s resignation comes ahead of the Cabinet reshuffle expected to take place on Sunday. After sending his resignation letter to the prime minister, Krishna met Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The resignation is seen as sudden, considering that Krishna met visiting King of Spain, Juan Carlos, at 10:15 am at Leela Palace Hotel. Later, from 11:30 am to 12:45 pm, he was at Hyderabad House attending various meeting with Spanish delegation led by the King. 

Krishna returned to his residence at 1:30 pm and sent his resignation letter to the prime minister around 3 pm. He left his residence in a private car and met Sonia and Rahul separately between 3:30pm to 4:30 pm. He later left for an undisclosed location. On Saturday he is scheduled to meet the prime minister around 10 am and address a press conference at 10:30 am. 

It is said Sonia Gandhi had sounded out Krishna about party work in the State after her return from her recent visit last week to Karnataka. 

However, party sources say that he may not be made the president of the KPCC as speculated in some quarters, and instead may be made the chairman of the campaign committee of the party unit ahead of Assembly elections due next April.

Giving a free hand

Krishna thanked the prime minister and Sonia Gandhi for giving him an opportunity to serve in the Cabinet, but cited no reason for his resignation. Party sources said Krishna resigned to give the prime minister a “free hand” to choose a new minister to head the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma’s name is said to be ahead in the race to replace Krishna. Sharma had earlier held the post of minister of state in MEA.

Others in the reckoning include Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath. Interestingly, the name of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, too, is being heard in this connection.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid’s name was speculated earlier, but he may not be considered, embroiled as he is in a controversy over a trust headed by his wife.
For some time, speculation has been rife over Krishna’s possible exit from the Union Cabinet. Sources close to the minister, however, had scoffed at such reports, insisting that Sonia Gandhi was keen on the former chief minister taking over the party in Karnataka or play a leading role in the campaign since the Congress seems to have a bright chance to wrest power in the State.

However, Thursday’s order of the Karnataka Lokayukta court to probe the role of the Vokkaliga leader (among others) in the Bangalore-Mysore Expressway scam has come as a setback to the former chief minister. 

Krishna’s exit from the Union Cabinet has brightened the chances of former chief minister Dharam Singh and former Rajya Sabha deputy chairman K Rahman Khan to be inducted into the Union Cabinet.

Minister of State for Railways K H Muniyappa may also get a Cabinet rank.
Krishna has been perceived to have been settled comfortably in his position as foreign minister of late, after committing a few faux pas in the initial days in office. He fumbled on the floor of Parliament, took wrong names in high-level meetings and read a wrong speech at the UN.

Of late, he had had a smooth sailing as external affairs minister. He had also developed a good rapport with Hillary Clinton, Hina Rabbani Khar and Yang Jiechi, his counterparts in the US, Pakistan and China respectively.

As External Affairs Minister, Krishna had a busy itinerary coming up, including foreign tours. On November 2, he was sscheduled to chair Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation at Gurgaon. The meeting was hosted by India attended by 16 countries representatives. 

He was also scheduled to travel to Laos-PDR on a two-day tour on November 5 and 6.

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