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Dharwad: ‘I did not ask for any position from the Congress’

jagadish shettar
Photo Credit : IANS

Hubbali: Six-term MLA and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Friday May 5 said that he did not ask the Congress for any position while switching over from BJP, which he had served for decades.

The veteran leader decided to part ways with the saffron party after being denied a ticket for the May 10 Assembly polls.

Jagdish Shettar spoke to IANS in an exclusive interview at his Hubbali residence.

Excerpts from interview:

IANS: Speculation is rife that the Congress offered a plum position to you if voted to power. Your comments?

Shettar: I was not offered any position – neither plum nor ordinary – as I did not ask for anything in particular. The Congress gave a ticket to contest from Hubbali and it’s more than enough.

IANS: You left the BJP after serving the party for so long. What was the exact reason for a leader like Jagadish Shettar to leave BJP ?

Shettar: I was humiliated by a section of the Karnataka BJP leaders and denied ticket one fine morning. It was not the denial of ticket that infuriated me but the manner in which it was done.

IANS: Whom do you feel is behind the decision to deny tickets to a person who has represented the seat six times?

Shettar: A section of the Karnataka leadership is behind this decision and I squarely blame the BJP national organising secretary B.L. Santhosh for it. He is from Karnataka and ever since he took over as the national organising secretary, he was trying systematically to sideline senior leaders and develop his own coterie.

IANS: Reports say that you would have abided by the central leadership decision of not contesting polls had there been proper communication. Your comments?

Shettar: Definitely. They didn’t treat a senior leader like me with respect. I had been an MLA for the past six terms and represented the Hubbali constituency. I wanted to contest the polls this time also and had begun preparations for it. However, one fine morning, BJP election in-charge for Karnataka, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan called me up and told me not to contest. He also asked me to give in writing that I quit active politics. This was not the way to communicate to a former Chief Minister.

IANS: Were you denied a ticket as you were a Chief Minister aspirant?

Shettar: It could be one of the reasons. Some leaders were insecure and they plotted against me. There were many contenders for the CM post, including Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Pralhad Joshi and B.L. Santhosh himself. I am the senior most Lingayat leader after B.S. Yediyurappaji and they plotted against me despite me telling �them that I am not a contender for the post and wanted to be an MLA only.

IANS: How will your quitting impact BJP and help Congress?

Shettar: My leaving the BJP will affect the party’s prospects in 20-22 seats. Several Lingayat leaders have followed my route in several districts of North Karnataka.

IANS: How did the minority communities of your constituency react to your decision of joining Congress?

Shettar: I never had any problem with minority communities, be it Muslims or Christians. I have had an excellent personal rapport with all of them and they warmly welcomed my entry to Congress.


IANS: What are the chances of your win ?

Shettar: The people of Hubbali know well that I was instrumental in several development projects in the area since long. I am confident of winning the seat with a good margin.

By Arun Lakshman

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