Thirteen and three former MLAs of the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)] respectively, of the former Congress-JD(S) coalition government of Karnataka, remain disqualified. The Supreme Court of India, which was hearing the plea of these MLAs who were disqualified by the former speaker Ramesh Kumar, pronounced its verdict upholding their disqualification on November 13. However, the court ruled that the speaker had no right to bar the disqualified MLAs from contesting any elections till 2023. Thus, the Court has allowed these MLAs to contest in the upcoming byelections.
Today in Bengaluru, Arvind Limbavali, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA announced that 16 out of these 17 MLAs have joined the saffron party. According to Prajavani, Pratap Gowda Patil (Maski), BC Patil (Hirekeroor), Shivram Hebbar (Yellapur), ST Somashekar (Yashwantpur), Byrati Basavaraj (K R Puram), Anand Singh (Hospete), N Munirathna (Raja Rajeshwari Nagar), K Sudhakar (Chikkaballapur) and MTB Nagaraj (Hospete), Shrimant Patil (Kagawada), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Mahesh Kumatalli (Athani) and R Shankar (Ranebennur), K Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout), AH Vishwanath (Hunasoor) and KC Narayana Gowda (K R Pete)—except Roshan Beig—have all joined the BJP.
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The Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa is quite confident of BJP winning all the 15 seats. In his speech in Assembly today, the CM said that he would ensure that all the promises he had made for these newbies in the BJP will be kept. According to reports, 13 of the new entrants have been given tickets to contest the bypolls.
In the recently held local body elections in 418 wards, Congress had won in 151; the BJP in 125; JD(S) in 63; BSP in 14; Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) in seven wards; Republican Party of India (A) (RPI) in two; CPI(M) in one and Independent candidates in 55 wards.
According to several media reports in Karnataka, ever since the Supreme Court’s verdict came out yesterday, there has been a wide range of disagreements within the BJP. It was reported in Prajavani that Raju Kage of the BJP has quit BJP to join Congress. He has announced that the reason for him to quit was that he was not given a ticket. Ashok Poojari is another BJP member who has made his intention to leave the party clear.
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In the state Assembly elections held on May 12, 2018, none of the political parties got a full mandate and BJP emerged as the single largest party with 105 MLAs, while Congress got 78 seats, JD(S) 37 seats and one seat each was bagged by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janata Party (KPJP). On May 15, 2018, the Congress and the JD(S), who fought against each other in the Assembly elections, decided to come together and form the government—saying that it is important to keep the BJP out of the state politics.
With these 17 MLAs resigning, the government had to go through the trust vote and the coalition government lost. It managed to get just 99 votes as rebel and resigned MLAs failed to attend the Assembly session, while BJP’s 105 MLAs voted against the government. Lone Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA N Mahesh didn’t attend the voting and was consequently expelled by BSP supremo Mayawati for acting against her will.
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Including the Speaker, the Karnataka legislative Assembly has 225 members. Out of the total strength of 224, the ‘magic number’ is 113. Congress and JD(S) formed a post-poll coalition along with BSP, an independent candidate and a nominated member; the strength of the coalition stood at 118. On the other hand, BJP has 105 seats and one from the KPJP, making an aggregate of 106. With the results of the bypolls for 15 seats, the total house strength will be 223. So, the BJP needs to win at least seven seats in the bypolls to have a majority.