Narayana Swamy
Daijiworld Media Network

Kundapur / Bangalore, Jul 13: Halady Srinivas Shetty, a loyal BJP man who defeated J P Hegde (currently Udupi - Chikmagalur MP) by a record margin in the 2008 state assembly poll, is considered the 'Vajpayee' of Udupi as he hardly has enemies in politics.  The three-time MLA had never gone beyond his power, but sincerely worked for the betterment of his people. His personal charisma is such that he could win the election even if he were to contest as an independent candidate.

On Wednsday July 10, MLAs from coastal region recommended his name for Shettar's ministry, though he was not keen to take up any ministry in the government. But later on Wednesday evening, former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda personally called him over the phone and asked him to start for Bangalore, as his name had been included in the list of ministers. Gowda asked him to be present at the oath taking ceremony on Thursday 12 noon.

Convinced by his people and the district MLAs, he went to Bangalore along with his supporters. He was assured that official invitation would be given to him by the state intelligence by Thursday morning.

What hurt him was that he was with his friend, MLC Srinivas Poojary, who is now a minister in the Shettar government. Until 11.15 am on Thursday, both were together but Poojary never discussed anything about the ministry. At 11.15 am, Halady received a message from a party member that he would not be included in the ministry, and instead, Srinivas Poojary would be inducted. It is not clear still, whether Poojary had prior information or not, but for the sake of formality Poojary told Shetty, "If you agree with it, I will take oath, otherwise I will skip."

Shetty did not react, but he was already dejected. He turned emotional and cried, as he could not believe what had just happened. It was a great insult to him, as his family and supporters were already in Bangalore in large numbers to witness his golden moment. MLAs from coastal region tried to console him, but Shetty continued to cry. Other MLAs and Shetty's well-wishers requested Poojary not to take oath, and asked him to boycott the ceremony.

But Shetty's friend eventually ditched him, and without listening to anyone, Poojary quietly reached Raj Bhavan and took oath as a minister in the Shetter cabinet.

The rest is history. Kundapur BJP supporters and the Vokkaliga community in the coastal region reacted strongly to this 'last minute ditch' and insult to Halady, and organized a massive protest immediately. A successful bandh was also called on Friday.

"I am humiliated. Why did my party do this to me? What was my mistake? I have never been identified in any group. When there was group politics in Bangalore, I was quietly serving my people back home. I never asked or wanted the ministry from my party, I was happy the way I was, but then why did they call me to Bangalore and offer a berth? I cannot tolerate this insult. I am hurt, my people are hurt, my entire constituency is hurt," said Halady speaking to Daijiworld on Friday.

Armed with his resignation, he went meet bpeaker Bopaiah on Friday noon, but he had to return as the speaker was not available in his office. Sectretary of the legislative assembly declined to accept his resignation, as it does not come under his purview.

"I am firm in my decision, until now no leaders contacted me or asked my people's pain. I think there is no meaning in continuing as MLA. I would be happy to serve my people even without the MLA tag," he told Daijiworld.