On Thursday, Congress strongman and six-time MLA from Kalaburgi district, Mallikayya Guttedar said that he is will join the BJP.
Speaking to the media after his meeting with BJP state President BS Yeddyurappa, Guttedar said that he was disappointed by the way the Congress party had treated him.
“I have been denied ministership thrice and I am disappointed at the way the party has treated me. The senior leaders of the party are trying to destroy me,” Guttedar said.
Speculation is rife that Guttedar may join the BJP on Friday in the presence of Amit Shah in Mysuru. However, the Congress MLA has not yet tendered his resignation to the Speaker or the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President Dr G Parameshwara yet.
Guttedar’s exit from the Congress may come as a major blow as the party has lost two of its strongmen in Kalaburgi district already – former Jewargi MLA Dharam Singh and former Gulbarga North MLA Qamarul Islam, who died in 2017.
Qamarul Islam was a six-time MLA and a strong leader who had managed to swing the votes of the Muslim community. His death has put a dampener on Congress’ chance of winning in Gulbarga North.
Dharam Singh, an eight-time MLA from Jewargi, also died last year. Singh, who was the former CM of Karnataka, was a popular leader in Kalaburgi and had a strong local following.
According to party insiders, Mallikayya Guttedar has been angry with Mallikarjun Kharge and his son Priyank Kharge and he blames the father-son duo for curbing him from climbing the party ranks.
“Mallikayya Guttedar has won elections six times. In 2013, he had expected a ministerial berth. Despite several cabinet reshuffles, he was never given a ministerial portfolio and Guttedar was seriously unhappy about this. For a six-time MLA, he saw it as a blow to his standing in the party and felt he had been disrespected,” a Congress source said.
This is not the first time Guttedar has threatened to quit the party. In 2016, during the cabinet reshuffle, Mallikayya Guttedar had threatened to quit and the high command had to intervene and pacify the veteran leader.
Kalaburgi district is one of the most important ones in the Hyderabad-Karnataka belt, and has been a Congress stronghold since independence. Despite the emergence of the Janata Party in the 1980s, which broke the pattern, Kalaburgi district had always been Congress’ bastion.
Of late, the BJP too has gained footing in the region ever since BS Yeddyurappa became the face of the BJP. The Lingayat population in the district gradually veered towards the BJP.
In the 2013 Assembly election, the Congress won seven of the nine seats here. This was because Hyderabad-Karnataka region was given special status under Article 371(J) in 2012 by the then UPA government. In addition, the BJP splitting into two factions with Yeddyurappa launching Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) had ensured more votes to the Congress.
In 2004, BJP had won five seats and Congress had won four. But with the death of Singh and Islam, the Congress will find it tough in the region.
“The rise of Priyank Kharge, who was given a ministerial portfolio at such a young age did not bode well for Mallikayya Guttedar. The Congress will have to find someone equally strong as his replacement will be next to impossible. One of the reasons it is difficult to manage the politics in Kalaburgi is because Mallikarjun Kharge always has the final word and not all his decisions are smart,” the source added.