Jagadish Shettar sure of big victory in Belgaum, pollsters predict photo-finish

Asked about his exit from the BJP and brief stint with the Congress, which he left just before elections, he said he would not like to comment.
BJP leader Jagadish Shettar
BJP leader Jagadish Shettar

BENGALURU: Former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who contested from Belgaum on a BJP ticket, is confident that he will win with a big margin.

Speaking exclusively to TNIE on Thursday, he said his victory margin would be huge. His comment came in response to opinion of pollsters and local feedback that Belgaum witnessed one of the toughest poll battles and is poised for a photo-finish. There are many who are staying with the 50:50 chance for the candidates.

What if he loses Belgaum, does he have a plan B? “There is no plan B for me. I am a loyal foot soldier of the party and will do as the party tells me,’’ he said. Though his supporters have said there is no legislative council election coming up where he can be accommodated in case of a loss, he said, “There is no thinking on those lines. I will focus on what the party tells me to do.’’

Asked about his exit from the BJP and brief stint with the Congress, which he left just before elections, he said he would not like to comment. His supporters, meanwhile, indicate that if he had been given a seventh term from his seat, Hubli-Dharwad Central, his rebellion and exit would not have happened in the first place.

On the open campaign by Lingayat pontiff Dingaleshwar Swami against BJP’s Hubli-Dharwad candidate Pralhad Joshi, Shettar said, “Not only Lingayats but Marathas and other castes have also supported BJP comprehensively.” Asked about sub-castes among Lingayats coming to the fore this time, and people voting in favour of candidates on sub-caste lines, like Lingayat-Panchamsalis, Lingayat-Banajigas, Lingayat-Ganigas etc, he said sub-caste is not important as this is an election to select a leader who safeguards India’s national interests. Pollsters say the Panchamsalis, who are in a majority, are likely to have voted for Mrinal Hebbalkar.

With the election campaign being polarised by PM Modi’s statements about the Muslim community, Shettar said he has one word of advice for Muslims: “If your have been residing here for a few hundred years, how can all of you support only the Congress, will it not further isolate all Muslims? I greatly desire that they come out of that mindset.”

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