November 18 was the last day to file nominations for the candidates contesting the upcoming by-elections in Karnataka. The political atmosphere of the state is tense, as the rebels from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continue to protest against the decision to give tickets to the defectors from Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S). According to several Kannada media reports, supporters of Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi protested against the party for giving ticket to Mahesh Kumatahalli.
Sources in Gokak and Ranebennur also confirmed that there was unrest among the BJP workers in Gokak where Ashok Poojari had demanded a ticket. In Ranebennur, demand to give ticket to Basavraj Kelagara had risen. BJP leaders Yeddyurappa and Sriramulu reportedly have tried their best to pacify the rebels, but to no avail. Many are now concerned with how his rebel within the government will affect the ruling in the state.
It should be noted that the BJP had no option but to give tickets to these defectors. Yeddyurappa himself on several occasions had said that BJP could form its government in the state because of the 17 MLAs resigning and the party will be grateful for them. In July, when the 14-month-old Congress-JD(S) government collapsed, the BJP, which was the single largest party in the state, formed the government. The defection of the 17 MLAs from the Congress (14) and JD(S) (3) led to the collapse of the government. These MLAs, as reported by NewsClick, were unhappy with the coalition government for several reasons—ranging from not getting the ministries they desired to not getting a place in the Cabinet.
Also Read: BJP Set to Topple Coalition Government in Karnataka?
Congress and JD(S) had contested independently in the Assembly elections of 2018, but came together in a post-poll coalition with an intention of keeping BJP out of the state. However, during the 14 months of their governance, many of the MLAs were seen getting into awkward fights with each other. This aside, ever since the coalition government was formed, the government was accusing the BJP of trying to lure MLAs with large amounts of money.
The recent induction of the 16 out of the 17 defectors into the BJP raises questions regarding the possibility of horse trading, and the recent media reports based on the affidavits filed by these candidates show a remarkable increase in the assets of these candidates compared to their declared assets in 2018.
MTB Nagraj, Byrati Basavraj, KC Narayana Gowda, S T Somashekar, Mahesh Kumathalli and Anand Singh, all of them-the contesting candidates from the BJP reportedly have amassed a vast amount of wealth between July 2018 and October 2019.
Also Read: Karnataka By-Elections: Will BJP Have to Pay for Their Overconfidence?
According to the affidavits submitted with their nominations: Anand Sing now has assets worth Rs 104.42 crore, which is 33 crore more than what it was just 18 months ago. MTB Nagraj, who is a candidate from the Hoskote constituency, has declared assets worth Rs 1,223 crore; in 2018, his wealth was worth Rs 1,015 crore. In the affidavit, it can be noted that between August 2 and 7, this year, 53 deposits were made in his various bank accounts. Byrati Basavraj contesting from K R Puram had declared assets worth of Rs 90.58 crore and according to a Prajavani report, it has gone up to 112.90 crore—a whopping increase of Rs 22.32 crore.
K C Narayana Gowda has now reportedly declared assets worth Rs 23.83 crore, while it was Rs. 9,51 crore earlier. S T Somashekhar contesting from Yeshwantpur has declared Rs 18.29 crore as against Rs. 14.14 crore. Athani candidate Mahesh Kumathalli has declared assets worth Rs 41 crore as opposed to Rs 27 crore during the last Assembly election.
This increase in the assets of the defectors has raised serious questions regarding horse trading resulting in the collapse of the previous government.
Also Read: Karnataka: 16 of 17 Disqualified MLAs Join BJP, 13 Get Tickets