Former deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi, who announced his decision to resign from the primary membership of the BJP after being denied a ticket to contest in the May 10 Assembly elections, joined the Congress on Friday.
He would now be the grand old party’s candidate in Athani in Belagavi district, Congress leaders said.
Savadi, a Lingayat leader in Belagavi district, on Friday resigned from the Legislative Council and the BJP before heading to the office of the Congress, his new political home.
“From today onwards, I have no connection with the BJP… I will be a devoted and loyal worker of Congress just as I was in the BJP for 20 to 25 years,” Savadi said at a press conference after joining the party.
He was flanked by Congress state president D K Shivakumar, Congress national general secretary and Karnataka in charge Randeep Singh Surjewala and Election Campaign Committee Congress and MLA M B Patil.
Savadi said he had helped BJP candidates Shrimant Patil in Kagwad and Mahesh Kumathalli in Athani to win the 2019 bypolls following the disqualification of 17 MLAs, which led to the fall of the H D Kumaraswamy-led Congress-JD(S) coalition government.
“I was also instrumental in the BJP’s victory in 13 constituencies due to which I was made the deputy chief minister. The BJP had promised that I would contest the 2023 assembly election but they backtracked,” Savadi said.
Savadi said the BJP leadership had promised to give tickets to all the 17 people who helped BJP form the government in 2019 but R Shankar was “dumped”.
He said the BJP was using different yardsticks, which forced him to quit the party with which he had been associated for more than two decades.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said he was “saddened” by Savadi’s decision to part ways with the BJP and join the Congress.
“…I’m feeling very sad, we shared a close bond. Sometimes such political situations arise,” Bommai said. “He might have found his political future in the Congress. We will do our job in our party.” Savadi’s decision came after a meeting with Shivakumar, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah and Surjewala.
Ignoring Savadi’s request, the BJP had earlier this week given the Athani seat in Belagavi district to sitting MLA Kumathalli.
Savadi is a three-time MLA from Athani but lost in the 2018 elections to Kumathalli, who was in the Congress at the time.
Kumathalli was among the group of defectors who helped the BJP bring down the Congress-JD(S) coalition government and form its own government under the leadership of B S Yediyurappa in 2019.
He later joined the BJP and successfully contested the Athani by-election on the party ticket.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)