Bengaluru (Karnataka) : Prominent Lingayat leader and former Karnataka chief minister Jagadish Shettar on Monday joined the Congress party a day after he quit the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the May 10 Assembly elections in the State.
Shettar who arrived at the Congress office in Bengaluru this morning was inducted into the party by Congress chief MallikarjunKharge, the Karnataka state Congress president DK Shivakumar and the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Siddaramaiah. Senior BJP leader Amar Singh Patil also joined Congress along with Shettar.
Speaking at the occasion, Shettar said, “Yesterday I left BJP and today I joined the Congress party. Many are surprised as an opposition leader, former chief minister and party president is joining Congress. BJP has given me every position and being a party worker I always worked for the party’s growth.”
“I was among those who organised and worked for the growth of the (BJP) party. Yes BJP gave me respect and position. I won as an MLA six times and I I thought I would be naturally fielded for the seventh time,” he said
“I thought being a senior leader, I will get 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, not even gave assurance about what position will I get,” he stated.
“On April 11the party incharge said I had not been given a ticket. He spoke to me like speaking to a child. What should I do? I got a call in the morning and I was spoken to like I am a first time MLA or aspirant. I’m hurt. I was treated badly, ” Shettar said.
Shettar further said, “I was contacted by DK Shivakumar, Siddaramaiah, Surjewala and MB Patil. When they invited me I came without any other option. I am joining Congress wholeheartedly.”
Addressing reporters Congress chief Kharge said, “I do not need to give more introduction about Jagadish Shettar. His joining will boost the enthusiasm of the Congress, He is the person who not only wins alone, he is a person who is capable to win more seats. Though he was in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Jana Sangha, he is a non-controversial person. We have worked together.”
“Our target was 150, now after Shettar’s joining it is confirmed that we will reach the target,” added the Congress chief.
Taking to Twitter, Congress MP Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “A New Chapter, A New History, A new Beginning…. Former BJP CM, Former BJP President, Former Leader of Opposition, Six times MLA, Jagadish Shettar joins the Congress family today. Karnataka Congress welcomes him.”
Notably, Karnataka State Congress in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala, Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar met former CM Shettar in Bengaluru after he resigned from BJP on Sunday.
In this regard, Jagadish Shettar took to Twitter and said, “Fed up with the political events of the past few days, I have resigned from my MLA seat and will discuss my next move with the activists. As usual, I believe that your love and blessings will always be with me”.
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala on Sunday said that Shettar was humiliated and BJP has crumbled like a house of cards.
Shettar tendered his resignation as an MLA to Karnataka Assembly Speaker, Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, at Sirsi on April 16.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had earlier mentioned that BJP president JP Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah had promised Shettar a big post in Delhi.
“Jagadish Shettar has been a senior and an important leader in this region. JP Nadda and Union Home Minister had promised a big post in Delhi to Shettar. Everything would have been fine if the former CM had continued,” Bommai told media persons in Hubballi.
Bommai said that tickets are being denied to some candidates as opportunities are being given to the young generation.
Shettar, a six-time MLA from the constituency, was reportedly advised by the party to stand down and not seek a fresh term as MLA from the Hubli-Dharwad Central segment, following which his followers expressed their anguish against the party’s high command.
On Saturday after announcing his resignation Shettar also mentioned that there was a conspiracy against him, which is why he was denied a ticket.
Meanwhile, former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Sunday said if Shettar comes back to BJP, the party would welcome him.
The Karnataka assembly elections will be held in a single phase on May 10, with the counting of votes scheduled on May 13.