Making no secret that he is hurt, former Union minister and senior Congress leader SM Krishna on Saturday attacked the candidate-selection process in his party for the Karnataka Assembly elections.
At a meet-the-press programme, organised by the Press Club of Bangalore and Bangalore Reporters' Guild, Krishna said he had taken active part in candidates selection process since 1972, adding that the selection panel then used to have 15-16 members who used to engage in serious discussions.
He said the panel this time had close to 60 members – including himself – which he termed as "unwieldy".
"I was very surprised to see the list (with nearly 60 names). Can we finalise candidates with such a big panel? That's why I did not go to the (panel's) meeting," Krishna said. "It (the big list) left me cold."
Asked if the Congress has failed to encash the "fixed deposit" (good work done by him when he was the Chief Minister between 1999-2004), he said, "It's cleverness, intelligence and political astuteness to reap the dividends of good work done by erstwhile leaders. Those who say it's not required, it's their loss. It's not a loss to those who earned it."
The former chief minister refused to predict which party would come to power.
"It's difficult to expect people's verdict. People don't share secret (as to whom they will vote). Sometimes, polls go wrong because people who are approached give misleading information," he said.
Krishna said in 1999 when the Congress recorded a landslide victory, the then in-charge of the party's Karnataka affairs, Ghulam Nabi Azad led the party's efforts from the front and, despite his chronic backache, was with the state unit throughout the campaign.
"Some catalysts like these must emerge...gathering all of us together and take us forward," Krishna said.
Asked if he would campaign in Mandya, where he is reportedly at loggerheads with cine-star-politician MH Ambarish, Krishna took a dig at the latter without naming him. "What will I do there when there are leaders who can get tens of candidates to win with their own capability?"
On whether he was "saddened" by the "present politics" (of sidelining him), Krishna said "politics never saddens" and chose to invoke general Douglas MacArthur's speech – 'Old soldiers never die; they just fade away'.
"I am not sitting at home just ruminating. I have hobbies -- music, tennis and yoga. And I draw immense satisfaction from them," the 80-year-old veteran Congress leader said.
Krishna was of the opinion that pre-poll manifestos have lost basis and relevance in present times.
"Ruling party remembers about manifestos only when somebody reminds it and when opposition leaders take it up during discussions in legislature. And at that time one cannot find copies of the document in Vidhan Soudha, the State Secretariat, and they need to be fetched from Congress office," Krishna, who had skipped the party's manifesto release function, said.