Bengaluru: Cracks appeared in the BJP in Karnataka as 16 of the disqualified MLAs joined the saffron brigade. Surprisingly, Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwathnarayan stayed away from the grand function put up to induct the legislators into the party.
The BJP also saw to it that the lone Muslim rebel MLA and former senior Congress leader Roshan Baig was kept away though he had earlier mentioned that he would join the party.
The MLAs were inducted into the party by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa. But it was the absence of his deputy that hogged the limelight indicating that all was not well within the party.
Soon after joining the party, the BJP announced the names of 13 rebel MLAs as its candidates for the first list of assembly bypolls in Karnataka.
Yediyurappa thanked the disqualified legislators for providing Karnataka a stable BJP government, and left to Tumkur to attend a cooperative society meeting.
The 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.
Sources said Roshan Baig was not inducted following instructions from the party highcommand. Baig is facing investigations into a multi-crore ponzi scam in Bengaluru.
The BJP is confident that at least 10 contestants from the 14 hopefuls will win the by-elections to provide a stable BJP government; the BJP needing only seven.
Results of the assembly by-elections would decide the fate of the over 4-month Yediyurappa government which is still short of 8-9 seats for even a simple majority (113) in the 225-member House.
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.
In the bypolls, the opposition Congress and the JD-S are contesting separately as estranged allies. This will give an advantage to the BJP.
Meanwhile, a resurgent Congress is making an all-out effort to win maximum number of seats in the byelections and pull down the Yediyurappa government which, they say, is illegal.
“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 the media.
The by-elections will be held on December 5 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.