Bengaluru: Senior politician Basavaraj Horatti, who recently resigned as the Chairman of Karnataka Legislative Council and MLC, on Wednesday joined the BJP.
He joined the party in the presence of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, BJP national General Secretary C T Ravi, Ministers R Ashoka, Govind Karjol, C C Patil among others.
"Basavaraj Horatti has been a member of the Legislative Council for nearly 45 years and has served as its Chairman and Minister. He is a leader with lot of experience, commands a lot of respect and has been working for the cause of teachers. After deciding to join BJP he met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and resigned from his post and has officially joined the party today," Bommai said.
Speaking to reporters after welcoming the senior leader, he said, BJP is organising a huge programme in Hubballi shortly, to mark his induction into the party.
"His joining has strengthened the party. No one has the record of being an MLC for such a long time in the entire country. It has strengthened the party especially in the north Karnataka region. We will use his experience and will give him all the opportunities and respects he deserves," he added.
With this, Horatti, who has been elected as MLC seven successive times from 1980, has ended his long association with the JD(S).
He is likely to be fielded as the BJP's candidate for the upcoming MLC polls from West Teachers' constituency.
Considered to be the senior-most MLC, the 76-year-old was seen as a prominent Lingayat face of the JD(S) from north Karnataka.
He had been education minister in the state, and was elected as the Chairman of the Legislative Council in February 2021.
On Tuesday, Horatti told reporters, "I have resigned today as the Chairman of the Karnataka Legislative Council along with that also as MLC...I will be joining the BJP tomorrow, most probably at the party office in Bengaluru."
"Sometimes sudden changes happen. As some in my constituency and well-wishers were putting pressure on me insisting that I change, I had to accept it... I first got elected as an independent and thereafter got associated with the then Janata Dal and its breakaway JD(S). In 42 years of my political life, this is my first change," he added.
Opposition leader in the Council B K Hariprasad had said that Horatti’s statement that he would join the BJP after meeting Union Home Minister Home Minister Amit Shah amounts to violation of the anti-defection law and demanded that he be disqualified.
Horatti however defended his decision to join the BJP saying he was under pressure from his well wishers and teachers from his constituency.
While some speculated about his strained relationship with the JDS’ first family, Horatti said he had no problems with the Gowdas and that he shared cordial relations with JDS leaders H D Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy.
(with inputs from PTI)