Udayavani interview: BJP MLA S T Somashekhar voices discontent over alliance with JDS

Team Udayavani, Feb 21, 2024, 10:10 AM IST

Bengaluru: Yashwantpur BJP MLA S T Somashekhar expressed dissatisfaction with the alliance with the JDS, stating, “Many people in the BJP, including me, are unhappy about the alliance with the JDS. The party is honoring some of the party workers who worked against me. I am ashamed. After all this, what is there to do? I am not participating in any activity of the party, that’s all. In the Lok Sabha elections, I will work as instructed by the party.”

Somashekhar, who has been appearing more with the Congress recently, made these remarks in an interview with Udayavani.

When questioned about his apparent support for Congress and his distancing from BJP activities, Somashekhar explained, “When I transitioned from the Congress to the BJP and assumed ministerial responsibilities, there were no complications. However, during the elections in 2023, certain BJP members allied with the JD(S) and Congress in an attempt to thwart my candidacy. I presented evidence of this to party leadership. Despite this, I encouraged them to focus on their duties and contest the elections.

“Moreover, I addressed allegations directly, such as during a felicitation event where opponents falsely claimed that the Chief Minister participated in a program at a monastery linked to the shepherd community. Similarly, Deputy Chief Minister KS Eshwarappa also attended the same event. I also accompanied the Deputy Chief Minister during his visit to Kempegowda Layout in my constituency. What else can I say?” he asked.

The MLA elaborated on his disengagement from party activities, citing instances where local party members boycotted his programs and reinstated individuals who had previously worked against him.

“I have consistently received the acknowledgment and respect I deserve from the party and the Sangh Parivar. However, I have encountered challenges at the local level where certain individuals have refused to cooperate, boycotting events I organize or participate in.

“Despite taking action against a few who opposed me during elections, their suspension was revoked without my consultation. This lack of accountability is disheartening. Individuals involved in anti-party activities have been rewarded instead of facing consequences. In light of these developments, I have chosen not to engage in party activities, as it becomes tiresome to contend with such circumstances,” he added.

When asked about his stance on supporting the BJP-JDS alliance candidate in the upcoming Lok Sabha election, Somashekhar responded, “I am dissatisfied with the alliance, given my longstanding electoral experience. In previous elections, the Janata Dal (Secular) [JDS] has frequently resorted to slander and falsehoods against me, making them a direct adversary. Furthermore, with no Congress candidate contesting against me in the constituency, the JDS stands as the primary opposition. Reconciliation seems improbable under these circumstances.

“While initially, the alliance was formed during our tenure in the Congress, its transition to the BJP was based on the party’s effective governance within the coalition. However, the current situation prompts me to question the viability of collaborating with the JDS. Despite raising concerns with party leadership, including the organizing secretary and opposition leader, no corrective measures have been taken. Consequently, I have refrained from participating in party events due to disinterest. A scheduled meeting with former CM BS Yediyurappa and party state president B Y Vijayendra has been postponed. It remains to be seen what will be the outcome of the meeting,” he said.

Regarding allegations of cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha elections, Somashekhar clarified “I am committed to voting for the BJP in the Rajya Sabha elections and will not engage in cross-voting. Despite any dissatisfaction with the current alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) [JDS], I remain loyal to the party. My departure from the Congress was significant for the BJP, and I recognize the mutual dependence between myself and the party. While there are concerns within the BJP regarding the alliance, it’s essential to acknowledge that not everyone shares the same sentiments.

“However, it’s evident that many, including myself, harbor reservations. I understand the discontent among some BJP leaders, exemplified by their discomfort with certain political figures. The distinction between the upcoming by-elections and the broader electoral landscape underscores the complexity of the situation. As such, I will await guidance from the party leadership before making any further decisions,” he explained.

When questioned about accusations of working against the alliance candidate in the Vidhana Parishad teachers’ constituency, Somashekhar stated “I have neither worked against the alliance candidate nor campaigned for the Congress candidate in the teachers’ constituency. I have not been approached or requested by either the candidate or the Janata Dal (Secular) [JDS] to engage in campaigning.

“Additionally, I am unaware of the finalization of Ranganath as the alliance candidate. Furthermore, Ranganath’s actions have been adversarial towards me, which diminishes any incentive for collaboration. Regarding the Congress candidate, Puttanna, while he visited my office and campaigned, I have not endorsed him or actively campaigned on his behalf. With 950 teachers’ votes in my constituency, I have refrained from influencing their voting decisions.”

Translated from Udayavani Interview in Kannada conducted by Samaga Seshadri

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