A day after resigning as JD(S) MLA from Arkalgud constituency in Hassan district, veteran politician AT Ramaswamy, on Saturday, 1 April, joined the BJP. Ramaswamy is one of the first big names from the JD(S) to join the saffron party ahead of the 10 May Assembly polls in Karnataka.
The four-time MLA and senior politician, Ramaswamy joined the BJP at the party headquarters in New Delhi in the presence of Union Minister Anurag Thakur.
Soon after, he met with party chief Jagat Prakash Nadda and the BJP National General Secretary Dushyant Kumar Gautam.
Ramaswamy’s decision to quit the JD(S) came at a time the party was not keen on giving him a ticket to contest this time around.
Often deemed straightforward by colleagues of rival parties as well, Ramaswamy had developed differences within the JD(S) and was at loggerheads party chief HD Kumaraswamy over the past year.
When he resigned as an MLA on Friday at the Vidhana Soudha, PTI quoted him as telling reporters: “I did not quit JD(S). They themselves have sent me out. I am a victim of money power. I aspire to contest the election to serve people if I get an opportunity.”
Of 2 JD(S) MLAs, 1 to BJP, 1 to Congress
Ramaswamy is the second JD(S) MLA to quit as legislator this week. On 27 March, another MLA, SR Srinivas (Gubbi Srinivas alias Vasu) resigned and joined the Congress.
Meanwhile, former minister A Manju, who has earlier been with both the Congress and the BJP, and had represented the Arkalgud constituency in the past, recently joined the JD(S) and is the party’s likely candidate in the constituency.
Reports suggest that another JD(S) MLA from Arsikere in Hassan district, Shivalinge Gowda, is also likely to resign from the JD(S) party soon to join the Congress.
Hassan district is a stronghold of the JD(S) party where, out of seven constituencies, the party had won six seats in the 2018 Assembly elections.
The one constituency that JD(S) lost in 2018 was to BJP’s Preetham Gowda. And now with Ramaswamy’s induction into the party, the BJP is eyeing two seats in Hassan for its strategic entry and gradually capturing the Vokkaliga dominant Old Mysuru region.
BJP Spokesperson G Mahesh told South First: “AT Ramaswamy is known as an honest politician. When there were several land-grabbing instances in the state, Ramaswamy was made the committee president who fearlessly submitted reports about the land grabs to the government, and obviously it is a known fact that honest people are not required either in the Congress or the JD(S).
“His (Ramaswamy) joining BJP will certainly contribute to the party’s strength. BJP was already there in Arkalgud constituency when MLA Manju was elected, then some problems arose when Manju switched loyalty,” Mahesh added.