Belagavi: Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) state and central leadership have tasked its Belagavi district representatives with a mission to bring back defectors, particularly Athani Congress legislator Laxman Savadi, before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, according to BJP insiders.
Chikkodi BJP MP Annasaheb Jolley confirmed the directive, saying that he and other party leaders were working to woo back those who had left the party. “To win both parliamentary seats in the district, myself, former party MP Ramesh Katti, Rajya Sabha member Iranna Kadadi, and other BJP leaders of the district are working hard to bring back those who left the party to establish the party’s rule at the Centre,” he said.
Representing the Chikkodi constituency for the first time, Jolley reportedly took Savadi to a ‘secret place’ in his car after the completion of the board management committee meeting of Belagavi District Cooperative Credit (BDCC) bank on Monday.
Amid speculation fuelled by media sightings of Savadi in Jolley’s car, the MLA clarified that there was no chance of his return to the BJP. He dismissed the car ride as a casual outing with childhood friends, emphasising that he had no intention of rejoining a party that had subjected him to humiliation.
Savadi, a former deputy chief minister in the Yeddyurappa government, had defected to Congress after being denied a BJP ticket in the previous assembly elections. Despite recent high-profile returns to BJP, including Jagadish Shettar, Savadi remains resolute in his allegiance to Congress, citing the support he received during challenging times.
Savadi clarified that he would never rejoin the BJP. Regarding the matter concerning the BDCC bank, where former BJP Chikkodi MP Umesh Katti serves as chairman, Savadi emphasised that despite political differences, the management committee members prioritise the bank’s welfare “To facilitate a relaxed conversation, I went in Jolley’s car, bringing him and other committee members, including BJP workers, to my residence at Sadashiv Nagar for lunch,” Savadi explained.
Both BJP and Congress district presidents weighed in on the matter, with BJP expressing optimism about Savadi’s return and Congress dismissing any possibility of his defection.
BJP district (rural) president Appasaheb Pujati stated that the party is striving to explore all possible avenues to retain power at the Centre and approached Savadi as one of its efforts.