BJP State President BS Yeddyurappa on Wednesday announced that former Congress leader Umesh Jadhav, who joined the BJP last week, may contest the Lok Sabha elections from Gulbarga constituency.
Speaking at a press conference in Bengaluru, Yeddyurappa said, "Umesh Jadhav will definitely contest elections. There is no problem at all. He has every right to contest elections and he will contest elections from Gulbarga".
If Umesh's selection is approved by the party's central unit, he will likely go up against Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge in the Lok Sabha elections.
Yeddyurappa revealed that the state leadership will finalise the list of preferred candidates in a core committee meeting scheduled for Friday. Yeddyurappa will then travel to New Delhi to confirm the names selected with the party's central unit. "We will announce the first list of candidates from 20-22 constituencies by 16 March (Saturday),” he added.
Incumbent MP and Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge has retained a vice-like grip on the Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency, having won back to back elections. He defeated BJP candidate Revunaik Belamagi in 2014 and 2009.
Umesh was elected as the MLA from Chincholi in the 2018 Karnataka Assembly elections but he submitted his resignation to the Speaker on March 4. He defected to the BJP from the Congress on March 6. However, his resignation is yet to be accepted by the Speaker.
Umesh was one of the four Congress MLAs that the party wanted to be disqualified for failing to follow the order of the party whip in attending the budget session of the State Assembly. He had also missed several party legislature meetings in the run-up to the budget session and was also missing when the Congress party MLAs gathered at the Eagleton resort in Ramanagara in January in response to the threat of BJP attempting to prise their MLAs away.
Umesh had earlier made his displeasure known to senior Congress leaders, particularly regarding the decision to induct Priyank Kharge, son of Mallikarjun Kharge, a first-time MLA, into the Cabinet in 2013 during the tenure of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Even HD Kumaraswamy, who succeeded Siddaramaiah, inducted Priyank into the Cabinet as the Social Welfare Minister.