Sixteen disqualified Karnataka Assembly legislators, barring Roshan Baig, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday, following the Supreme Court judgement on Wednesday. The party has also announced the names of 13 rebel MLAs (disqualified) as its candidates for the first list of assembly bypolls in Karnataka.
"The ex-MLAs visited the Karu Malleshwara temple in Malleshwaram and joined the BJP at 11 a.m. on Thursday," BJP leader Vanamacharya told
Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa welcomed the ex-MLAs into the BJP fold, handing over a party flag and promising a bright future ahead, said Vanamacharya.
Yediyurappa thanked the disqualified legislators for providing Karnataka a stable BJP government, and left to Tumkur to attend a cooperative society meeting.
Except Roshan Baig, the other ex-MLAs who joined the BJP included Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumtahalli, Anand Singh, Shrimanth Patil, Pratap Gouda Patil, B.C. Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, S.T. Somshekar, Byrati Basavaraju, Muniratna K. Sudhakar, A.H. Vishwanath, Narayana Gowda and K. Gopalaiah, R. Shankar and MBT Nagaraj.
Vanamachary said it is not yet clear why Roshan Baig has not joined the party, hinting that the Centre has asked for more time to induct him.
According to Vanamacharya, the by-elections in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru and Kampli in Raichur district have been postponed due to election petitions.
Excluding Baig, he said, a minimum of 14 ex-MLAs can get BJP tickets to contest in the forthcoming by-elections, however one or two of them may not accept the offer.
"Though they have joined BJP, they would like to nominate somebody, either from their circle or family. But they have not cleared the air so far." Vanamacharya told
IANS in anticipation.
He exuded confidence that at least 10 contestants from the 14 hopefuls will win the by-elections to provide a stable BJP government, despite the BJP needing only seven.
"Ten is a good number to have a stable government for the next three and a half years," told Vanamachary.
He said a good number of the disqualified legislators who joined BJP on Thursday can expect to become ministers.
The by-elections will be held in Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapura, Hirekerur, Ranibennur, Vijaynagara, Chickballapura, K.R. Pura, Yeshwanthpura, Mahalakshmi Layout, Shivajinagara, Hosakote, K.R. Pete and Hunsur.
The vote count is on December 9.
Karnataka by-polls hold key to BJP government survival
Results of the 15 assembly by-elections on December 5 would decide the survival of the over 4-month BJP government in Karnataka, as the ruling party is still short of 8-9 seats for even a simple majority (113) in the 225-member House.
"Though the Supreme Court allowed the 17 disqualified and former Congress and JD-S legislators to contest in the by-elections, the BJP government's continuation depends on their victory at the hustings as its candidates. At least 8 of the 15 have to win to save the government from the brink, as they were also responsible for its formation on July 26," a political analyst told
Upholding the former state assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar's July 25-28 orders disqualifying the rebels under the anti-defection law, the three-judge bench, however, allowed them to contest in the by-polls the Election Commission postponed from October 21, as their joint petitions were pending before the top court since August.
"As all the rebels will contest the by-polls on the BJP ticket after joining it on Thursday, the onus will be on them and the ruling party to win at least 8-9 of the 15 seats to continue in office for the remaining over 3 years till May 2023," said the analyst.
With 17 vacancies, the BJP has 104 lawmakers in the current 208-member assembly and support of one independent to have a simple majority of 105 as the halfway mark.
Of the remaining members, the Congress has 66, JD-S 34 and one each of the BSP, speaker and one nominated in the 208-member Assembly.
"As the opposition Congress and the JD-S are contesting the by-elections separately as estranged allies, it will be advantage BJP in a triangular contest with their votes divided vertically," said the spokesman.
Mocking at the BJP's claims, a Congress spokesman told IANS that it would go all-out to retain the 14 seats it lost after its former legislators resigned a year after they were won in the May 2018 assembly elections on the grouse that the 14-month-old coalition government did not do anything for the development of their constituencies across the southern state.
"We will expose all the turncoats whose disqualification the Supreme Court upheld and allowed them to contest in the by-elections. We will see with what face our former legislators will seek votes from the electorate when they defied the party's whip and abstained from the assembly on July 23, which resulted in the collapse of our 14-month coalition government after its chief minister resigned for failing to win the trust-vote," Congress spokesman Ravi Gowda told IANS.
The Congress on October 31 announced names of eight candidates to contest from as many constituencies and was waiting for the apex court's judgement to field winnable candidates in the remaining seven assembly segments.Nominations for all the 15 segments resumed on November 11 and November 18 is the last date for filing them.