BJP workers reject Mahesh Kumathalli, want Laxman Savadi as bypoll candidate in Karnataka's Athani

While a rebellious unit has started an online campaign against former Congress member Mahesh Kumathalli, Deputy CMSavadi said that he will work for rival’s win.
Mahesh Kumathalli (L) and Laxman Savadi
Mahesh Kumathalli (L) and Laxman Savadi

BELAGAVI: A rebellion has broken out in the BJP ranks in Athani constituency in Belagavi. Crossover candidate Mahesh Kumathalli finds no acceptance among party workers, who have also started an online campaign against him and garnered a huge response.

“We cannot accept Mahesh Kumathalli as our candidate. The ticket must not be given to Kumathalli who made insulting speeches against the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There is still one more day’s time. If the ticket is not given to Laxman Savadi, we will stage a massive protest. We will certainly not vote for Mahesh Kumathalli,” the workers told Belagavi district in-charge minister Jagadish Shettar, just before the party leaders were to meet for a bypoll preparatory meeting on Sunday.

The workers, who staged a protest in front of Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi’s residence, demanding that he contest the bypolls, stopped him from going for the meeting, scheduled to be held at RN Kulkarni Hall in Athani. Shettar and Kumathalli were to attend the meeting too, to decide on the rally for the party candidate during the filing of nominations on Monday.

After the high drama came to an end, Savadi arrived at the meeting, where he said that he was an honest party worker and would execute the duties given to him by the party. “I will put in my 100% to ensure Kumathalli wins,” he declared.

Former Congressman Kumathalli had, surprisingly, won against Savadi from Athani during the 2018 assembly elections. A staunch follower of Gokak strongman Ramesh Jarkiholi, he had joined the rebel camp of 15 MLAs, who pulled the rug from under the coalition government.

As promised, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa gave the ticket to Kumathalli, who will file his nomination papers on Monday with the support of Laxman Savadi.

Athani, a BJP fortress, slipped out of Savadi’s grip after he was given charge of the campaign in Gokak, and took Kumathalli’s challenge lightly. He lost by a few thousand votes, and now, his followers fear that he will lose relevance in the constituency.

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The New Indian Express