Senior Congress leader S M Krishna, largely seen to have been ignored in the candidates selection process for the May 5 Assembly elections in Karnataka, skipped the manifesto-release event of the party on Wednesday. In fact, the former CM, who led the government between 1999-2004 after a landslide victory, was conspicuous by his absence, as party leaders who mattered were all there.
After intense speculation last week that he would stay away from canvassing, Krishna began campaigning in some city segments, including Vijayanagara and Govindrajanagar, from Sunday, but it would be interesting to see if he would address poll meetings in home Mandya district, where he is said to be at loggerheads with actor-politician M H Ambareesh, who seem to be calling the shots there now.
The Congress appears to be in the doldrums in Mandya, with its district president M S Atmananda having quit in protest against the party denying him a ticket and giving it to Ambareesh.
In neighbouring Srirangapatna segment,the party succumbed to the "pressure tactics" of Ambareesh, who refused to file nomination until Ravindra Srikantaiah, who had already been named for the seat, is not replaced by his protege S L Lingaraju.
Srikantaiah, said to be the favourite of Krishna, filed nominations from both Mandya and Srirangapatna but withdrew it from the former but continues to be in the fray in the latter as an independent, a Congress rebel, spelling potential trouble for the party's prospects.
A section of Congress is staying away from campaigning for Ambareesh, who has admitted that his efforts to reach out to the former External Affairs Minister - who seems to be sulking after being apparently ignored by the party's scheme of things in poll-bound State - vis-a-vis canvassing for him has failed to yield positive results.
Union Ministers Mallikarjuna Kharge, M Veerappa Moily, Rahman Khan, K H Muniyappa (all from the State) and senior Congress leaders Ambika Soni and Oscar Fernandes, former Chief Minister N Dharam Singh, besides KPCC President G Parameshwara and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Siddaramaiah, were among those present at the manifesto-release event.