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Jagadish Shettar EXCLUSIVE: 'BJP's resurgence in Karnataka is inevitable...'

In a special interview with "Kannadaprabha," Jagadish Shettar addresses accusations of opportunism, neglect of Belagavi, and his transition to national politics. He emphasizes BJP's national ideology over Congress's guarantee schemes, asserts party unity, and counters allegations of being an outsider. Shettar predicts BJP's resurgence and dismisses baseless accusations against the centre.

Jagadish Shettar EXCLUSIVE: 'BJP's resurgence in Karnataka is inevitable...' vkp
First Published Apr 24, 2024, 10:43 AM IST

In the highly contested arena of the Belagavi Lok Sabha election, all eyes are on the clash between veteran BJP leader Jagdish Shettar and the rising Congress candidate, Mrinal Hebbalkar, the son of Minister Lakshmi Hebbalkar. Originating from Hubli, Shettar has dived headfirst into the electoral fray in Belagavi, responding to the accusations levelled by the opposition in a special interview with "Kannadaprabha." Here's the full conversation:

Q - Shettar's brief stint with the Congress post his unsuccessful bid for a BJP ticket, followed by his return to the BJP, has sparked accusations of political opportunism. How do you respond?

Jagadish Shettar: Congressmen have refrained from levelling any substantial allegations against me. The circumstances surrounding my brief tenure with Congress are widely known. Having re-joined the BJP, I firmly refute any claims of opportunism. With four decades of dedicated service to the party and my seasoned experience, I've adeptly discharged various responsibilities bestowed upon me.

Q: Is the opposition harping on the narrative of Shettar's alleged neglect of Belagavi in their campaign?

Jagadish Shettar: I've had the privilege of serving as the minister in charge of the Belagavi district on two occasions. Notably, during my tenure, there were no murmurs of neglect from the opposition. I've actively engaged with officials to foster Belagavi's development, with the participation of both BJP and Congress MLAs in constructive discussions. It's only in the heat of the electoral battle that these baseless accusations surface. I vehemently deny any wrongdoing and affirm my unwavering dedication to Belagavi's progress, evident in endeavours such as the construction of Suvarnasoudha.

Q: What prompted your transition from state to national politics?

Jagadish Shettar: There exists no decree precluding individuals from transitioning to national politics from state politics. Having served as an MLA in state politics, I'm now poised to serve the people at the national level through my candidacy in the Lok Sabha. This marks a fresh opportunity for public service.

Q: Congress is advocating its five guarantee schemes. How do you intend to counter their campaign?

Jagadish Shettar: While Congress touts its guarantee schemes, our campaign pivots on national ideology and leadership. Prime Minister Modi epitomizes decisive leadership, steering the nation towards progress in areas ranging from security to economic policies. The populace's unwavering support for Modi's re-election underscores his pivotal role in the nation's development.

Q: Local BJP leaders initially expressed dissent over Shettar's candidacy in Belagavi. How has the scenario evolved?

Jagadish Shettar: Initial dissent is not uncommon in such circumstances. However, post the official announcement of my candidacy, unity prevails among party members. All office bearers have rallied together, demonstrating a cohesive front in our campaign efforts.

Q: There were murmurs of Shettar's potential candidacy in Dharwad. What influenced your candidacy in Belagavi?

Jagadish Shettar: The party high command's decision, in consultation with senior leaders, earmarked my candidacy for Belagavi. Conversations with Union Home Minister Amit Shah were devoid of discussions regarding other constituencies. Hence, abiding by the party's directives, I'm contesting from Belagavi, a constituency I've had a three-decade-long association with.

Q: Your brother was the incumbent MP. Did they accede to your candidacy?

Jagadish Shettar: My candidacy in Belagavi received the unequivocal support of the sitting MP, Begati Mangala Suresh Angadi, ensuring a smooth transition.

Q: Allegations have surfaced regarding Shettar's over-reliance on Modi's persona and achievements in the campaign. What's your take?

Jagadish Shettar: Our campaign unequivocally highlights the transformative achievements of the Modi-led central government over the past decade. Contrastingly, the Congress-led state government's tenure was marked by stagnation. It's essential to discern the moral standing of those who critique Modi and the BJP.

Q: Congress accuses you of being a newcomer to the Belagavi constituency. How do you respond?

Jagadish Shettar: While Hubli may be my birthplace, Belagavi holds a special place in my heart, having been my "Karmabhumi" for the past three decades. The Congress' allegations of being an outsider lack merit, particularly when juxtaposed with instances like Rahul Gandhi's candidacy in Wayanad and Minister Sivananda Patil's daughter contesting from Bagalkot.

Q: Did Rahul Gandhi accuse the central government of soliciting bribes from businessmen?

Jagadish Shettar: If corruption marred the Modi administration's tenure, why did Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi fail to address it during parliamentary sessions? It's easy to criticize, but harder to substantiate claims. The UPA government's era was marred by multi-crore scams, with investigations still underway.

Q: BJP leaders predict the collapse of the Congress government post-elections. Do you share this sentiment?

Jagadish Shettar: The Congress' internal strife is palpable, indicating potential turbulence ahead. Statements from Congress MLAs and leaders further affirm the precarious state of their government. The BJP's resurgence is inevitable, fueled by prevailing sentiments and aspirations for change.

Q: Opponents campaign against Shettar citing withheld central tax money and inadequate drought relief. How do you address this?

Jagadish Shettar: Allegations against the centre lack credence, particularly when avenues like the Niti Aayog Economic Committee remain untapped. It's opportunistic to politicize issues without engaging in constructive dialogue. Such baseless accusations hold no sway amidst our development-centric agenda.

Q: What's the prevailing sentiment among the constituents in Belagavi?

Jagadish Shettar: The overwhelming outpouring of support and affection from the people of Belagavi is heartening. Their embrace reflects a sense of ownership and solidarity with our vision and leadership, transcending superficial distinctions.

Q: Will the BJP be impacted by the division of Maratha votes due to the MES contest?

Jagadish Shettar: Belagavi's electorate has historically prioritized development over caste affiliations, reaffirming their steadfast support for the BJP in Lok Sabha elections.

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