Former Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar joined the Congress today after being dropped by the BJP as a candidate for next month’s election.
Mr Shettar, a prominent Lingayat leader, resigned as an MLA and quit the BJP yesterday. He met with senior Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala, the party’s Karnataka chief DK Shivakumar and veteran leader Siddaraimah late last night in Bengaluru.
‘I thought being a senior leader, BJP will give me the ticket, but when I came to know that I am not getting it, I was shocked. No one spoke to me nor tried to convince me,’ said Jagadish Shettar after joining Congress.
‘I was treated badly and forcefully thrown out of the party that I built. I am joining the Congress by accepting its ideology and principles,’ he added.
Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge called Mr Shettar a ‘non-controversial’ person who will boost the enthusiasm of the party.
‘I do not need to give more introduction about Jagadish Shettar. He is the person who not only wins alone, he is a person who is capable to win more seats,’ Mr Kharge said.
Congress veteran Siddaramaiah said Mr Shettar is a ‘decent and secular’ politician who always stood with the BJP, when in the opposition.
Mr Shettar was said to have been advised by the BJP to sit out the May 10 elections and not contest from his Hubli-Dharwad Central constituency.
The Lingayat leader also alleged there was a systematic conspiracy against him.
The BJP said Mr Shettar has chosen himself over the party.
‘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,’ said BJP strongman BS Yediyurappa, hitting out at the former chief minister.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Jagadish Shettar personally on Saturday.
The Karnataka BJP has released two lists of candidates for the 224-seat assembly elections to be held next month.
12 more candidates, including one for Mr Shettar’s Hubballi-Dharwad constituency, are yet to be announced.
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 BJP leader and Lingayat stalwart Laxman Savadi had also quit the BJP and joined Congress last week, in a high-profile exit, prior to Mr Shettar’s departure.
The results of the Karnataka election will be declared on May 13.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius