A week after former chief minister Jagadish Shettar quit the BJP crying “betrayal” of the Lingayat community by his party and filed the nomination on a Congress ticket from Hubli-Dharwad Central Assembly seat, the saffron party has decided to pay him back in the same coin.
The BJP high command has fielded their most powerful Lingayat face BS Yediyurappa to counter his allegations and ensure Shettar’s defeat.
Terming Shettar’s allegations against the party “preposterous”, BSY held a meeting with the local Lingayat leaders in Hubli-Dharwad twin cities and asked them to do everything to defeat Shettar.
Explaining the reasons for the denial of ticket to Shettar in a closed-door meeting, BSY has assigned the job of defeating his one-time Comrade in arms to local Lingayat leaders and workers.
After Shettar quit the BJP over the denial of ticket and then joined the Congress the BJP was rattled and took a few days to respond.
Aware of the situation that can damage the party as Lingayat are the backbone of BJP, party strategists have decided to use the same card to teach Shettar a lesson.
BJP’s all powerful general secretary-organisation BL Santhosh whom Shettar holds responsible for his ouster met BSY and chalked out a plan to counter Shettar in particular and Lingayat “betrayal” in general.
BSY flew down to Hubli and thundered that Shettar should be defeated by a huge margin for his betrayal of the party.
“Shettar is greedy. Party has made him what he is today. He has joined Congress out of lust for power. He is equating himself to the entire Lingayat community. We don’t appreciate that. We will defeat him in the election. I want over a lakh people to celebrate his defeat on May 13 when the votes are counted,” BSY told News18.
After filing the nomination on Congress ticket, Shettar seems to have realised that the way ahead is not smooth for him as the constituency, which he has represented six straight terms since 1994, is not really in his control.
The BJP is well entrenched in this constituency and the cadre is more or less with the party.
Shettar has been doing a door-to-door campaign with his wife Shilpa Shettar requesting the voters to save his honour by voting him back.
So far, no big leader of the Congress has campaigned for him and he is fighting a lone battle.
AICC president M Mallikarjun Kharge said the party has not fielded Shettar to lose his election.
Shettar held a meeting with Rahul Gandhi in Hubli and insiders say he has asked the party to throw their entire might behind him.
Shettar is hoping to create some wave in his favour closer to the voting day.
Reacting to the BJP’s decision to field BSY to lead the campaign against him, Shettar said “BL Santhosh is firing on BSY’s shoulder. He should come out and fight against me. Not through others”.
With inputs from News18