Beleaguered Udupi MLA says he opted out to safeguard the interests of the BJP

A group of supporters of K. Raghupati Bhat, who has opted out of contesting the Assembly seat from Udupi, tried to persuade him to change his decision.

Mr. Bhat opted out of the race following some Kannada television channels aired a hazy footage featuring a person, purported to be the Udupi MLA, in bed with a woman. The veracity of the black and white video or the claim is not yet been established.

The slogan-shouting supporters, who gathered in front of his house on Saturday, urged him to contest as an independent candidate if he did not get the BJP ticket.

Mr. Bhat, who addressed the gathering, said the decision had been taken after a lot of consideration. He said he did not want to dent the image of the party. Insisting that he would campaign for the party’s candidate, Mr. Bhat said: “No one in the party forced me to take the decision. It is my decision.”

Terming the CD as fake he said it had been created by his political opponents to tarnish his reputation. “I have faced many tough situations and will not run away from anything. I have got thousands of messages on my mobile phone expressing support,” he said.

His supporters apparently were not calmed by his speech and warned the BJP leaders that they would not work for any other candidate. They also tried to pressure the president of the district unit of BJP K. Udaykumar Shetty, who was present at the moment, to announce Mr. Bhat as the party’s candidate.

Mr. Shetty said that the issue would be discussed at the core committee meeting of the district unit and the feelings of the workers would be conveyed to the State leadership.

A section of the supporters later decided to return to Mr. Bhat’s house at 9 a.m. on Sunday to step up the pressure.

Upendra Nayak, president of zilla panchayat, Dinakar Shetty Herga, Yashpal Suvarna and Mahesh Thakur, members of Udupi City Municipal Council, were present.

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