The former Chief Minister, six-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA and prominent Lingyat leader Jagadish Shettar has left the party, claiming that he was “humiliated” and treated as “use and throw” after being denied a ticket for the 2023 Karnataka assembly elections.
Early morning on May 16, Shettar arrived in Sirsi, Uttara Kannada district, gave assembly speaker Vishveshwar Hegde Kageri his resignation letter, and ended his almost four-decade association with the BJP.
In the meantime, Jagadish Shettar has attacked the BJP, alleging that it has mistreated and humiliated him. He declared, “The BJP leaders humiliated and mistreated me. It is upsetting that a few state leaders are abusing the BJP system”.
Shettar also said he had no blemish on his record, corruption charges, rowdy sheets, or ‘CDs’ (sex scandals), but the BJP still denied him a ticket. He insisted, “I am not after power or position. All I had asked was to continue serving my people as a legislator”. He even threatened that denying him a ticket would affect the results of 20-25 seats in the upcoming elections.
Basavaraj Bommai, the chief minister of Karnataka, suggested that his leaving the party might have an effect. The Chief Minister said, “Jagadish Shettar is a senior leader, and his leaving the party will have an impact. We tried pacifying him by offering a key position in New Delhi and also an assembly ticket to his family member. But Shettar was very adamant about his assembly ticket and did not agree to our terms. We will overcome his impact at Hubballi – Dharwad region”.
Aside from criticising Jagadish Shettar, the former chief minister Yediyurappa expressed his displeasure with his decision. Yediyurappa said, “Jagadish Shettar should pave a way for the younger generation. If he contests on a Congress ticket, I will personally campaign in his constituency and make sure that he will be defeated. The Lingayat community will always be with the BJP”.
According to the sources, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Union ministers Pralhad Joshi and Dharmendra Pradhan sought to convince him, “but he did not budge and remained adamant on his stand to contest”.
A growing number of BJP legislators, like the 67-year-old Jagdish Shettar, are leaving the party for similar reasons, which might hurt the party’s chances in the May 10 elections. Nearly five legislators, including Laxman Savadi, the former deputy chief minister of the BJP, have already left the party. Almost 16 legislators are replaced and not given tickets in the upcoming assembly elections. Savadi, a different well-known Lingayat leader who claimed that the party had humiliated him, joined the Congress on May 15 and was offered a ticket to run from Athani in Belagavi.
On May 17 in Bengaluru, Jagadish Shettar also joined the Congress party. In the presence of DK Shivakumar, president of the KPCC, and Mallikarjun Kharge, the party’s national president, he joined the Congress.
The defection of BJP leaders into opposition and mass exodus in Congress has created political confusion and will likely impact upcoming elections. There are 224 assembly seats in Karnataka, and the current BJP administration took office as a result of 17 defections from Congress and JD(S). The Congress-Janata Dal (S) government was overthrown in 2019 after losing a controversial trust vote in the assembly 99-105, just one year and two months after it was established in 2018.