Jagadish Shettar, a senior BJP leader and six-term MLA who served as chief minister, resigned from the Karnataka legislature today. The troubled BJP has not given him a ticket for the state polls that must be held in three and a half weeks.
Jagadish Shettar travelled to Sirsi in the Uttara Kannada district on Sunday morning and gave assembly speaker Vishveshwar Hegde Kageri his letter of resignation. Shettar joined the Congress party later in the day. The Deccan Herald claims that M.B. Patil and Shamanur Shivashankarappa moved quickly to arrange Jagadish Shettar’s joining, utilising their family connections to contact him.
Concern over the resignation of key party officials drove B.S. Yeddyurappa, a fellow former chief minister, to publicly appeal to him to remain in the party. He said, “I want to ask Jagadish Shettar why is he joining Congress? If he comes back to BJP, we will welcome him.”
Shettar sought the nomination to run for office in the Hubballi-Dharwad central seat. According to reports, the chief minister Basavaraj Bommai and the union ministers Pralhad Joshi and Dharmendra Pradhan attempted to convince him until late Saturday night, “but he did not budge and remained adamant on his stand to contest.”
According to The Wire, the loss of Laxman Savadi, a significant figure who could affect the outcome of the state’s elections, and his decision to join the resurgent Congress appears to have shocked the BJP. Savadi was a prominent member of the Lingayat community. Savadi served as the BJP’s deputy chief minister.
According to the New Indian Express, Shettar stated yesterday that denying him a ticket would impact at least 20 to 25 seats in the state if he withdrew his nomination for the assembly election in the Hubli-Dharwad Central district. According to South First, Shettar is “the second prominent Lingayat leader to quit the BJP” (after Savadi).
There are 224 assembly seats in Karnataka, and the J.D. (S) and 17 defections from Congress allowed the current BJP government to win 17 of those seats. The Congress-Janata Dal (S) government was overthrown in 2019 after losing a contentious trust vote in the assembly 99-105, just one year and two months after it was established in 2018.