Former Karnataka CM Jagadish Shettar joins Congress after quitting BJP
DECCAN CHRONICLE | MB GIRISH
Bengaluru: Senior BJP leader and former Karnataka chief minister Jagadish Shettar on Monday joined the Congress Party in the presence of party president Mallikarjun Kharge in Bengaluru at the party office. Mr Shettar, a six-time MLA representing Hubballi Central Assembly seat, was denied a ticket by the BJP to contest the coming Assembly polls.
After joining the Congress, Mr Shettar said: "I deserved a graceful exit or retirement from the BJP." But that did not happen and he added: "I was driven out of the party in a systematic manner."
He recalled that his family has been associated with the Jan Sangh, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP for a long time, and said: "I was the seniormost in the party after former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa and the leaders feared my seniority in the party."
Over the denial of a ticket by the BJP, Mr Shettar said: "I have won for six consecutive times and won the election with a margin of about 25,000 votes, and there was no mention of my name even in the second list of nominees." He asked: "Is this the way to treat a senior leader of the party who strived hard to build it in north Karnataka region?"
"I had extensively worked for the development of the constituency for the last two years and expected a party ticket to contest the polls," Mr Shettar said, adding that he was "hurt" after BJP leaders denied him a ticket at the last minute.
Explaining what happened, he said that BJP leaders had on April 11 informed him that he would not be fielded in the coming Assembly polls. "The BJP leaders should have made their decision known to me at least 10 days in advance about the denial of ticket to me," Mr Shettar said.
Mr Shettar added that "some individuals" have taken control over party affairs, including ticket distribution. "The BJP is centralised in Karnataka, with a few individuals controlling all its affairs," he said, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP president J.P. Nadda may be unaware of the state of affairs in the Karnataka unit.
"With no other option," Mr Shettar said, he had joined the Congress, accepting its ideology, after an invitation from Congress leaders M.B. Patil, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Siddaramaiah and D.K. Shivakumar. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the party gained strength in north Karnataka with the joining of Jagadish Shettar and he was confident that the Congress would win in about 150 seats in the coming polls.