Malikayya Guttedar jumps ship, quits Congress

BENGALURU: Former minister and backward classes’ leader and serial party-hopper, Malikayya Guttedar on Thursday announced his decision to part ways with the ruling Congress and join BJP on grounds that a senior legislator like himself was not accommodated in the cabinet by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Mr Guttedar, who has represented Afzalpur constituency in Kalaburgi district for six terms irrespective of his party affiliation, told the media after a meeting with state BJP president B S Yeddyurappa here that he would quit the Congress as well as his membership of the Assembly, to join the BJP without any riders. He said he spoke to Mr Siddaramaiah about his decision to quit the Congress but could not submit his resignation to Speaker K B Koliwad as the latter was away.

He would join the BJP during party president Amit Shah’s tour of Mysuru on March 30 and 31, he added.

A party-hopper, Mr Guttedar had quit the Congress earlier to join Karnataka Congress Party (KCP), an outfit launched by the late Chief Minister S Bangarappa in 1994, but returned in 2013 after a stint as JD (S).  legislator. He, however, had run-ins with veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and his minister-son Priyank Kharge during his latest tenure in Congress. Their differences reached a point of no return when Mr Priyank Kharge was inducted into the ministry by Mr Siddaramaiah, overlooking the seniority of Mr Guttedar.

Sources in Congress said Mr Guttedar got wind of Mr Kharge’s plans to ensure his defeat him in polls on May 12 and therefore decided to defect to BJP. Initially, Mr Guttedar was keen to return to JD (S) and even put up banners welcoming party patriarch H D Deve Gowda recently. He, however, discovered that JD (S) lacked a strong support base in his constituency and took a decision to join BJP when the party candidate offered to make way for him.

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