Former Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi, who was denied a ticket by the ruling BJP to contest from the Athani seat in Belagavi district, on Friday (April 14) joined the Congress. He also resigned from the membership to the Karnataka Legislative Council.
Mr. Savadi, a three-time MLA from Athani, had lost the 2018 elections to Mahesh Kumathalli, then in the Congress, who eventually joined the BJP in “Operation Kamala”. The BJP has, this time, given a ticket to Mr. Kumatahalli, which had angered Mr. Savadi.
Mr. Savadi, who on Thursday, had said he was ending his relationship with the BJP, met senior Congress leaders, including former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, KPCC President D.K. Shivakumar and AICC General Secretary Randeep Surjewala in Bengaluru on Friday morning.
Later, he tendered his resignation to the Legislative Council seat before formally joining the Congress in the evening. Mr. Shivakumar and AICC General Secretary Randeep Surjewala were present.
Rebellion in 63 constituencies
Mr. Shivakumar said that in 63 constituencies BJP has seen rebellion, with its leaders planning to contest independently or moving to the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress.
“About 90 % of them are coming to Bengaluru. Today is a historic day in Karnataka politics since senior leader Mr. Savadi is joining the Congress,” he said. Mr. Surjewala said Mr. Savadi has contributed to the State’s growth story.
“The only demand I have placed is for a ticket in Athani, and if Congress comes to power, pending irrigation projects in Athani have to be completed. Congress leaders have asked me to canvass in other districts, which I will do,” he told reporters here after the meeting.
Asked if his joining the Congress would lessen BJP leader Ramesh Jharkiholi’s influence in Belagavi, he said, “You will know that when results are announced.” To a question if this was a fight between Valmiki and Lingayats in Belagavi district, he said, “There is no such thing in Belagavi. We are all together.”
Mr. Savadi also clarified that former Chief Minister and BJP leader B.S. Yediyurappa had not called him. To criticism by the BJP that he was rewarded despite his defeat in 2018 Assembly polls, Mr. Savadi shot back, “Did I ask them to make me MLC and Deputy Chief Minister? Why did they drop me? Did I have any corruption charges against me? Is it not an insult?”
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai expressed sadness at Mr. Savadi leaving the party. “He has found his political future in the Congress. The Congress does not have candidates in 60 seats, so they are taking some people into the party.”