‘Humiliated’ by BJP, former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar joins Congress, set to contest polls

Ending his lifelong association with BJP, Shettar joined Congress on Monday in the presence of AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 17, 2023 | 11:43 AM Updated Apr 17, 2023 | 2:14 PM

Jagadish Shettar joins Congress in the presence of AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge. (Supplied)

Former Karnataka chief minister Jagadish Shettar joined the Congress on Monday, 17 April, a day after he had stepped down as MLA and resigned from the BJP’s primary membership.

Shettar is set to contest from his incumbent seat, Hubballi-Dharward Central, but as a Congress candidate for the first time in his political career.

On Sunday, Shettar ended his lifelong association with the BJP. His tryst with BJP dates back to his father’s time.

Shettar’s father, SS Shettar, was the first Jan Sangh Mayor of Hubballi. Shettar has been credited with building the BJP from scratch in Karnataka and was among the party’s initial prominent leaders.

On Monday, Shettar expressed his dissatisfaction over how the BJP had denied him a ticket to contest the 10 May Assembly elections in Karnataka.

“On 11 April, just two days before the nomination process was to begin, the BJP in charge told me that KS Eshwarappa and I won’t get tickets, and asked me to send him my letter of consent — as if I were a newbie. Is this the way to treat a senior leader,” Shettar asked, terming the BJP’s treatment of him “humiliating”.

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Overwhelming support, claims Shettar

He, however, insisted that he has immense respect for BJP leaders like BS Yediyurappa. Shettar added that he was overwhelmed by the support he has been receiving from the Lingayat community and the people of his constituency.

Former chief minister Jagadish Shettar joined the Congress in the presence of AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge and KPCC chief DK Shivakumar. Congress Legislative party leader Siddaramaiah, AICC general secretaries KC Venugopal and Randeep Singh Surjewala were also present. (Supplied)

Former chief minister Jagadish Shettar joined the Congress in the presence of AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge and KPCC chief DK Shivakumar. Congress Legislative party leader Siddaramaiah, AICC general secretaries KC Venugopal, and Randeep Singh Surjewala were also present. (Supplied)

Shettar, a six-time BJP MLA and a prominent Lingayat leader, has held several posts in his career, including that of the chief minister, leader of the Opposition, and BJP state president.

“Shettar is known as a decent politician in Karnataka. Though he is from the RSS, he shares secular values. He was the Opposition leader when I was the chief minister,” Congress Legislative Party leader Siddaramaiah said while welcoming the former BJP leader to his party.

Shettar quitting the saffron party has created an uproar among BJP leaders, including Yediyurappa.

The Lingayat strongman on Sunday criticised Shettar’s decision to quit the BJP after he was denied a ticket.

Yediyurappa said the people would not pardon Shettar.

“The party’s central leadership suggested that he name a family member as the candidate, and also offered him a Rajya Sabha seat besides including him in the Union Cabinet,” Yediyurappa said, adding that the party had not asked him to retire from politics.

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Attempts to pacify Shettar failed

Shettar’s announcement to quit his post and the party came right after BJP leaders, including Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, and Union ministers Pralhad Joshi and Dharmendra Pradhan, who is also the party’s in charge of Karnataka elections, called him at his residence on Saturday night to pacify him.

Shettar had been rebelling against the BJP ever since he got wind of the party replacing him in his constituency with a new face.

Anticipating that the party was preparing to deny him a ticket, Shettar had been publicly expressing his disappointment for a week now.

“I have always said that I will contest this election and since I am hurt today, I am resigning from my MLA post. I will go to Sirsi tomorrow to meet the Speaker and submit my resignation,” he told reporters on Saturday.

“Naturally, with a heavy heart, I will quit the party that I have built from scratch as well. It is sad that they have created a situation where I have to quit,” Shettar said, blaming state leaders and the state’s liasion to the central leadership of the party.