POLITICS
14/11/2019 1:59 PM IST

It’s Advantage Yediyurappa In Karnataka, Thanks To SC Verdict

The onus to retain their constituencies is now squarely on the 15 former Congress-JD(S) MLAs, most of whom will be getting a BJP ticket for the December 5 bypolls.

MANJUNATH KIRAN via Getty Images
Karnataka CM Yediyurappa has already done the spadework for the 15 disqualified MLAs to get a headstart in the by-polls by generously sanctioning funds to  their constituencies, much to the dismay of other BJP legislators.

BENGALURU, Karnataka: The Supreme Court’s verdict on Wednesday, which allows 17 disqualified Karnataka MLAs to contest by-elections, even as it upheld then speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar’s ruling on disqualifying them, has placed the ruling BJP and its chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa in a win-win situation. 

By-polls to 15 out of these 17 assembly seats which fell vacant following the disqualification of MLAS are scheduled on December 5.

The onus to retain their constituencies is now squarely on the 15 former Congress-JD(S) MLAs, most of whom will be getting a BJP ticket. 

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Yediyurappa has already done the spadework for the 15 disqualified MLAs to get a headstart in the by-polls by generously sanctioning funds to  their constituencies, much to the dismay of other BJP legislators. The Supreme Court’s decision to allow them to contest is seen as a victory in BJP circles, as the party  would have had to fall back on aspirants back home to contest in the 15 constituencies which have been Congress, JD(S) strongholds.

“The  BJP has never  won in the 15 constituencies (except  K.R. Puram and Yeshwanthpur in 2008) and by fielding  the disqualified MLAs from the Congress and JD(S), chances of the  party’s victory are high, as they have established themselves. The party needs  eight MLAs for the government to continue and we are confident of getting the numbers,’” said BJP state spokesperson Vaman Acharya.

16 of the 17 disqualified MLAs joined the BJP on Thursday.

According to BJP sources, tickets would be given to 13 of the 15 former  legislators, with Athani (Belagavi district) and Ranebennur (Haveri district) likely to go to party workers. 

“It’s the party’s responsibility to give tickets to all as only because of them the BJP government would be formed. They resigned their  assembly seats at the behest of the party’s central leadership. While tickets will be given, the onus of getting elected is on the candidates,” said a senior BJP functionary.

Revolt in the ranks

But the move has resulted in dissent in some constituencies—in Hoskote   BJP aspirant Sharat Bachegowda, son of BJP M B.N. Bachgowda, has openly rebelled against the party as the ticket  is expected to be given to disqualified Congress MLA M.T.B. Nagaraj. He rejected the chairmanship of the Karnataka Housing Board offered by Yediyurappa and has decided to contest independently. Sharat has received support from unexpected quarters—the JD(S)—with former CM H.D. Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil accompanying him on Thursday to file his nomination papers from Hoskote.

The Congress, which was expecting the court to uphold the former speaker’s ruling of not allowing the  disqualified MLAs to contest elections until the tenure of the present assembly (2023) ends, is looking to exploit the revolt in the BJP  camp.

In Belagavi district, four-time former BJP  MLA Raju Kage has said he will join the Congress. He was seeking a ticket from Kagwad, which is now expected to go to  former Congress MLA Srimanth Balasaheb Patil.  

The Congress, which was expecting the court to uphold the former speaker’s ruling of not allowing the  disqualified MLAs to contest elections until the tenure of the present assembly (2023) ends, is looking to exploit the revolt in the BJP  camp. 

“Allowing the  disqualified MLAs to contest defeats the very purpose of the anti-defection Act. It has legitimised the corrupt practices of MLAs and given the stamp of approval to topple a government, when there is audio-visual proof of  Yediyurappa saying it was done at the behest of the central leadership,” said Congress MLC K. Prakash Rathod.

While 9 December (when  the results will be announced) will  decide the fate of Yediyurappa and the BJP government in  Karnataka, BJP sources claim the verdict is in favour of the chief minister for now.  Post by-polls, if the party performs well, the new challenge for the CM will be accommodating the newly elected MLAs into the cabinet, which  has 16 berths to be filed.

“Though the defections may have been engineered by our party leaders,  the Congress-JD(S) MLAs resigned for various reasons. Majority of them were former CM Siddaramaiah’s supporters and it cannot be said  monetary consideration was the sole reason. Some of the disqualified MLAs are capable of funding a party’s entire poll expenditure,” said a senior BJP leader.