Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

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Jagadish Shettar is likely to join the Congress today.

Bengaluru/New Delhi:

Former Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar joined the Congress today after being dropped by the BJP as a candidate for next month’s election, becoming the second prominent leader to switch sides since last week.

Mr Shettar, a prominent Lingayat leader, resigned as an MLA and quit the BJP yesterday. He met with senior Congress leaders late last night, flying from Hubballi to Bengaluru in a special chopper.

Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala, the party’s Karnataka chief DK Shivakumar and veteran leader Siddaraimah were present in the meeting in Bengaluru.

Mr Shettar had been sulking since he was reportedly advised by the BJP to sit out the May 10 Karnataka election and not contest from his Hubli-Dharwad Central constituency.

He had threatened to contest one way or the other.

Mr Shettar had held a press conference last week saying that he received a call from Delhi where a senior party functionary asked him to drop his candidature to make way for young people. He said this was “not acceptable” to him.

“I am not the kind of person who is adamant and stubborn, but this time I am being stubborn because the party has humiliated me,” he said.

The Lingayat leader also alleged there was a systematic conspiracy against him.

The BJP said Mr Shettar has chosen himself over the party. Several options were given to Jagdish Shettar and the party never asked him to retire from politics, said BJP strongman BS Yediyurappa, hitting out at the former chief minister.

“He was given several options including a ticket being promised to a family member. The party also offered him to make a Rajya Sabha member and a Union Minister,” he said.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Jagadish Shettar personally on Saturday. Mr Bommai said BJP has given the maximum number of ministerships to the Lingayat community.

The Karnataka BJP has released two lists of candidates for the assembly election to be held next month, but 12 more candidates – including one for the Hubballi-Dharwad seat – are yet to be announced for the 224-member assembly.

Mr Shettar has won six elections in the past. He won by over 21,000 votes in the last assembly election in 2018, defeating his Congress rival Mahesh Nalwad.

Senior leader Laxman Savadi had also quit the BJP and joined Congress last week. Laxman Savadi was also a loyalist of Mr Yediyurappa and a powerful Lingayat leader.

Even before the list was announced, another senior leader, KS Eshwarappa, announced his retirement from electoral politics. Sources say he had received hints that he would be dropped.

The results of the Karnataka election will be declared on May 13.

 

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