On his first day, Khurshid seeks guidance from ‘friend’ Krishna

After the swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the new External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid drove straight to the Thyagaraj Marg residence of S M Krishna, his predecessor.

Khurshid and Krishna are more than colleagues. A close aide of Krishna described them as "family friends". Hence, it was natural for Khurshid to seek his guidance, and for Krishna to go to South Block and formally hand over the charge to Khurshid on Sunday afternoon.

The two leaders have known each others for at least two decades. Khurshid's father, Khurshed Alam Khan, was Governor of Karnataka from 1991 to 1999. It was the same time when Krishna was politically active in the state. Krishna became the chief minister in 1999, and maintained links with the former Governor's family. He also knows Salman's wife Louise Fernandes' father, Praxy Fernandes. As an IAS officer, Praxy Fernandes had worked with Krishna in the 1970s when the latter was a minister in the Devraj Urs government.

Khurshid was effusive in praising Krishna. "He has reached the pinnacle of his political career... he's a great performer," Khurshid said about Krishna.

Khurshid himself is no stranger to the External Affairs ministry, having served as the Minister of State in the P V Narsimha Rao government between 1993 and 1996. Recently, he represented India twice in international fora. He went to Kabul in June to attend the strategically important "Heart of Asia" conference. He also attended the funeral of Saudi Arabia's crown prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in June.

However, as Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and the top brass briefed him about the forthcoming engagements lined up for next week, Khurshid said, "It is a learning curve which will have to be steep because we have really hit the ground running. We have important visitors this week. I will need to get up scratch on everything that I need to know before I get into dialogue and conversations with them."

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