Karnataka poll: Will contest at any cost, says Jagadish Shettar, defying BJP high command

"I want to tell the party to allow me to contest, otherwise it won't be good for the party," said the angry BJP MLA and former Karnataka CM

Shettar, 2024 Karnataka assembly polls
A disgruntled Shettar could become a hurdle for the BJP in Hubballi and the North Karnataka region, where he is an influential figure. Pic:@JagadishShettar

Former Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Tuesday (April 11) has refused to accept the BJP central leadership’s decision asking him not to contest the May 10 Assembly elections.

Shettar has informed the party top brass of his displeasure with the decision and urged them to reconsider.

“I ask only one question – I won six times, I have no blot in my career and have no allegations against me. So why am I being excluded? I want to tell the party to allow me to contest, otherwise it won’t be good for the party,” the angry BJP MLA told the media.

However, he stopped short of saying that he will contest as an independent, if he is not given a ticket. According to reports, a disgruntled Shettar could become a hurdle for the BJP in Hubballi and the North Karnataka region, where he is an influential figure. Shettar belongs to the powerful Lingayat community as well.

The former Chief Minister has been associated with many reforms including the Kalasa Banduri drinking water project, construction of the assembly building in Belagavi and bringing the South Western Railways headquarters to the Hubballi-Dharwad region.

A sitting MLA from Hubli-Dharwad Central, a “hurt” Shettar has told the leadership that he would contest the election again, and requested them to give him an opportunity. Their decision was not acceptable to him and urged the party top brass for its reconsideration.

“I received a message from the seniors in the party that I am senior and a former chief minister. So, make way for others,” the 67-year-old BJP leader told reporters.

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Shettar, a former BJP state unit president and Assembly Speaker, said he has worked hard for 30 years to build the party in the north Karnataka region. “If they had told me two to three months ago, then it would have been respectable for me. When the nomination is just two days away (to begin), I am definitely hurt,” Shettar, a former leader of Opposition in the Assembly, said.

“I have told them that I will contest the election. Whatever you have said is not acceptable to me. So, please reconsider your decision and give me an opportunity to contest the election again,” he further said.

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The former CM noted that he got elected to the Assembly six times and every time had won the seat with a margin of 25,000 votes or more.

“I questioned them why I should not contest the election. What are my minus points? In the survey, which they have done in all the constituencies, according to the information I got, a positive response has come, almost 70 per cent positive response and public opinion is there (in my favour),” Shettar claimed.

He added that the senior leaders also agreed that there was a positive response in the survey report. “When there is a positive report, and there is no black spot on me, no corruption charges or allegations against me…,” Shettar asserted.

Stating that he had been loyal to the party and worked with dedication, he wondered whether loyalty itself was a minus point for him and there was no respect for it.

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“When he (call from central leadership) said so, I was deeply hurt. Jagadish Shettar, who worked for 30 years and built the party, has reached this condition, which was painful,” he added.

Disclosing that he was offered some other position and asked to discuss with the central leadership, Shettar said he should have been treated respectfully, as he is a senior leader and former CM of the state.