Umesh Katti says he will quit politics if BJP denies him ticket

Belagavi strongman dismisses reports that he is planning to join Congress

Umesh Katti says he will quit politics if BJP denies him ticket

BJP leader and Hukkeri MLA Umesh Katti on Friday denied the reports that he was quitting the party to join the Congress.

Katti, a former minister who weilds huge influence in Belagavi district, said he would contest the coming Assembly elections as the BJP candidate and, if denied the ticket, he would retire from politics. Talks have been held with BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa, Union Minister Ananth Kumar and Leader of the Opposition in Legislative Assembly Jagadish Shettar regarding the controversy over him quiting the BJP, he added.

Katti expressed confidence that BJP will retain power in Gujarat where the first phase of polling will be held on Saturday. "The party will also come to power in Karnataka and such being the situation, I will not quit the party. The BJP is poised to win 12 Assembly segments in Belagavi district, he said.

Meanwhile, Katti courted controversy for using unparliamentary words such as 'haramkhor' against BJP leaders. He later stated that the row has been created by some BJP leaders who fear that he would join the Congress.

Katti held an interaction with a section of media at his hometown Hukkeri on Friday morning over the reports that he was quitting the BJP to join the Congress. Later, in a video telecast by some private television channels, Katti was heard calling BJP leaders ''haramkhor'' who have been spreading rumours of him joining the Congress.

"I had mobilised more than 50,000 people for the BJP's Nava Karnataka Nirmana Parivartana Yatra held recently. If I had intentions to leave the party, I would not have organised such a big event," he said.

The Lingayat leader said he did not participate in the rallies seeking independent religion status for Lingayat, as per the directions of Shettar. "I am a Hindu first, then a Lingayat and a Veershaiva which are both the same. I am neither a Muslim nor a Christian or a Jain," he said.

The Congress has been dividing people by assuring them that Lingayat will get independent religion status. It will face the consequences in the coming days, Katti added.

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