NEW Delhi: After prominent Lingayat leader and former Karnataka chief minister defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and joined Congress ahead of the upcoming state assembly elections, Congress general secretary in-charge communication Jairam Ramesh on Monday took a swipe at BJP saying the ruling party in the state is falling like a house of cards.
Taking to Twitter, Ramesh said, “A massive shift in Karnataka politics! Former CM and a widely respected leader across the state, Jagadish Shettar, has joined the Congress party today. Karnataka Congress is on track to form the government with a full majority. BJP is falling like a house of cards.”
A day after quitting the BJP, former Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Monday joined Congress ahead of the May 10 State assembly elections.
Shettar arrived at the Congress office in Bengaluru this morning. His induction to the party took place in the presence of Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, Karnataka state Congress president DK Shivakumar and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Siddaramaiah.
After joining Congress, Shettar said, “Yesterday I left BJP and today I joined the Congress party. Many are surprised as an opposition leader, former CM 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 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.
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.”
Senior BJP leader Amar Singh Patil also joined Congress along with Shettar.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said that the joining of the prominent Lingayat leader will empower the party.
“This will empower (the party), there is unity. This shows that everyone is happy with the atmosphere that is forming in Karnataka today and all leaders are connecting with us…This is not a question of Lingayats, they are connecting with us by looking at our programmes. We welcome them,” Kharge told reporters.
Leader of Opposition in Karnataka Assembly Siddaramaiah alleged Bharatiya Janata Party disrespected the Lingayat community.
“Lingayat community is a big community in Karnataka, they (BJP) accept BS Yediyurappa as their leader, and Jagadish Shettar was always in the second position. They also disrespected Yediyurappa by bringing him down from the CM post, which is why he cried when he resigned,” said Congress leader Siddaramaiah.
He said despite coming from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Shettar is a ‘secular’ person.
“I welcome former chief minister Jagadish Shettar to our party. He is known as a decent politician in Karnataka. Though he is from RSS, he is a secular person. I worked with him as the opposition leader and he was the opposition leader when I was CM. He was an honest party worker in BJP and always stood with the party, not for personal gain,” added Siddaramaiah.
Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar said several MPs want to join Congress.
“Former Chief Minister, former Deputy Chief Minister and others including many MPs unconditionally want to join Congress. I welcome all of them,” Shivakumar said.
Shettar tendered his resignation as an MLA to Karnataka Assembly Speaker, Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, at Sirsi on Sunday.
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 Jagadish Shettar also mentioned that there was a conspiracy against him, which is why he was denied a ticket.
After being left out from the BJP’s candidate lists, Shettar had issued an ultimatum to the party, saying he would consider his future political course if denied a ticket from his preferred segment.
Meanwhile, former Karnataka deputy chief minister, Laxman Savadi also quit the BJP last week and Joined Congress. He was fielded from the Athani Assembly constituency by the Congress.
Savadi’s exit ahead of the polls is seen to be a major blow to the ruling BJP He joined the Congress party, after being denied a ticket by the BJP.
The Karnataka assembly elections will be held in a single phase on May 10, with the counting of votes scheduled on May 13. (ANI)