After the initial hoopla, former Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna‘s surprise induction into the Manmohan Singh cabinet, with charge of the vital external affairs portfolio, has lost all steam. For starters, Krishna has had to constantly battle the impression that the prime minister chose a weak minister because he wanted to have his way.
Krishna’s slow, measured way of talking has not gone down too well with 24×7 media which requires razor-sharp bytes. Then the MEA babus, who are queasy about Krishna’s right-hand man Raghavendra Shastry, are said to be reluctant to allow him to speak extempore given the fear that he may say something out of place.
After the “shame” at Sharm el-Sheikh, he was teased and taunted on the floor of Parliament of being a half-right not a Fulbright scholar. And, given his dispensation towards designer clothes, there were all those barbs about his being the next Shivaraj Patil, even before the first 100 days were over.
Krishna’s request for a certain officer to be posted in the MEA has apparently been stonewalled while many officers have expressed reluctance to join his team because they aren’t sure how long he will stay. On the other hand, ambitious ministers like P. Chidambaram are seeking to undercut his role by dealing directly with the Americans. And on top of all that, stories of his profligacy, like staying in a five-star hotel at his own expense, are doing the rounds.
Question: Will S.M. Krishna last his full term as a Union minister? Or has the countdown begun for his exit?