I was picked to help BJP win 150 seats: Laxman Savadi

Laxman Savadi

The inclusion of Laxman Savadi in Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa's Cabinet and his elevation as the deputy chief minister caused much heartburn within the BJP. In a chat with Akram Mohammed of DH, Savadi explained why he was picked, and how complacency cost him the polls last year. Edited excerpts:

Q: Political developments of Belagavi district has had a significant bearing in state politics. Differences between two leaders (Ramesh Jarkiholi and Laxmi Hebbalkar) spiraled out of control and led to the collapse of the coalition.

A: It is true that Belagavi politics is dynamic and active. However, it was not responsible for the collapse of the coalition government. Lack of coordination and trust among coalition partners and internal disputes forced 17 MLAs to resign from the coalition bringing the government down.

Your elevation as DyCM has been seen as an attempt to sideline the Jarkiholis and Kattis, who wield significant influence in Belagavi and other parts of that region. 

A: The BJP high command has made me a minister to ensure smooth functioning of the government in the remaining three years and 10 months. I don't think Jarkiholis and Kattis are sidelined. Balachandra Jarkiholi was made KMF chairman as he was not interested to be minister during the first phase of Cabinet expansion. Umesh Katti should have been made a minister. It is not wrong to nourish such aspirations. But only 33 MLAs can be inducted into the Cabinet. I am sure that many senior leaders of the party will be ministers in the second phase of cabinet expansion.

Is your elevation as DyCM an attempt by the central leadership to project you as a new leader from the Lingayat community?

The high command had a special reason for my appointment as I was not selected under any quota. My work as a co-operation minister made the leadership feel that I could strengthen the party and ensure that BJP wins 150 seats in the next election. That apart, the reasons for appointing three DyCMs was to strengthen Yediyurappa's hands and improve the BJP's prospects in the state.

Like in the previous coalition, disgruntlement has now surfaced among BJP leaders who are unhappy with the recent developments, including your elevation as DyCM.

It is not true. Disgruntlement in BJP is a closed chapter. There is no difference of opinion among state BJP leaders. The trivial differences among BJP leaders will have no bearing on the party, which stands united.

Mahesh Kumtahalli, who defeated you in 2018, is among the MLAs who resigned and was subsequently disqualified. In case of bypoll, will you contest from Athani or will BJP field Kumtahalli?

There are no permanent friends or foes in politics and anything can happen. The decision on who will contest from Athani will be taken by the party. I or Kumatahalli will contest on a BJP ticket.

What do you think cost you the elections in 2018?

My overconfidence and that of my supporters cost me dearly. I couldn't concentrate much on my constituency as I had the responsibility of nearby districts such as Bagalkot and Koppal, apart from other constituencies in Belagavi.

The 'porngate' incident has been regularly raised by the Opposition. How do you react to that?

A: I was shown the clip of a rape and murder incident in a Gulf nation by a Cabinet colleague, and this was caught on camera. Soon after, I realised that I had committed a mistake in the Assembly. I have been punished for it. I have suffered the consequences.

 

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