Bengaluru, Dec 3: By-polls to 15 Assembly segments in Karnataka on Thursday are crucial to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as their verdict on December 9 will decide its survival and continuation in the southern state.
“We are confident of winning more than the required seven seats for a simple majority (112) in the 223-member Assembly as we have 105 legislators, including one independent. We will be in a strong position after the results to prove we have majority in the House,” BJP spokesman G. Madhusudan told IANS on Tuesday.
The by-polls 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.
Though there are 17 vacancies in the 225-member Assembly, including one nominated from the Anglo-Indian community with voting right, by-polls in two seats — Muski (Raichur district) and R.R. Nagar (Bengaluru) — have been withheld due to litigation in the Karnataka High Court over their results in the May 2018 state Assembly elections.
The by-elections have been necessitated due to the disqualification of the 14 Congress and three Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) rebel legislators after they resigned from their Assembly seats in -July in protest against the former coalition government’s poor functioning.
The Supreme Court on November 13 upheld the disqualification of all the 17 legislators by previous Assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar but allowed them to re-contest in the by-elections, which were postponed from October 21 as the former rebels challenged their disqualification in the apex court and the Election Commission agreed to conduct the by-polls after judicial ruling.
“As our party was second in all the constituencies from where the Congress and the JD-S candidates had won in the May 18 Assembly elections, we are upbeat on wresting them from the opposition parties as their former rebels are our contestants and are popular with the electorate,” asserted Madhusudhan.
The BJP admitted 16 of the 17 defectors into the party on November 14 and fielded 14 of them, including 11 from the Congress and 3 from the JD-S.
It has fielded its former corporate Sarvana from the prestigious Shivajinagara constituency in Bengaluru central, as it declined to admit former Congress rebel lawmaker Roshan Baig into the party.
As the JD-S is contesting only in 12 seats, which will witness triangular contests, the battle will be straight between the BJP and the Congress in Athani in Belagavi, Yellapura in Uttara Kannada and Hoskote in Bengaluru Rural.
“In most byelections, the ruling party wins, as the voters elect its candidate to benefit from its government in any state. Moreover, the defectors have won from their respective constituencies two-three times in the past elections. Some of them as Congress and JD-S contestants. They are very popular for the work they did to nurse their respective constituencies,” reiterated Madhusudan.
The BJP candidates are Mahesh Kumatahalli (Athani), Srimanthagouda Patil (Kagwad), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Shivaram Hebbar (Yellapura), B.C. Patil (Hirekuru), Anand Singh (Viajayanagara), K. Sudhakar (Chikkaballapur), B.A. Basavaraj (K.R. Pura), S.T. Somashekar (Yeshvanthpura), K. Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout), M.T.B. Nagaraj (Hoskote), K.C. Naryana Gowda (K.R. Pet) and A.H. Vishwanath (Hunsur).
As the outcome of the floor test is determined by the number of members of the ruling party and the opposition parties present in the Assembly when voting is conducted through voice vote or division of votes, the nominated member’s vote will also be crucial for the BJP.
The Congress has 66 after losing 14 members and JD-S 34 after losing three members. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which has one member, is an ally of the JD-S.
With the JD-S and the Congress contesting separately in 12 seats after their 14-month-old coalition government fell on July 23 when its chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy failed to win the confidence motion he moved on July 18, its decision to participate in the trial of strength or not will also be crucial for the BJP to remain in office for the remaining term (three years and six months) of the present Assembly.