After Maharashtra, Congress hopeful of good show in Karnataka bypolls
The disqualification had reduced the effective strength of the 224-member assembly to 208. A party needs 113 to form the government.Updated: Dec 02, 2019 04:20 IST
Buoyed by the political developments in Maharashtra, the Congress in Karnataka is hopeful of a good show in the by-elections considered crucial for the BJP government for its survival. The by-elections for 15 out of 17 vacant seats in Karnataka are scheduled to be held on December 5, while the results will be declared on December 9.
The Congress’ confidence stems from the fact that 12 of the 15 seats going to bypolls are traditionally Congress seats. In a triangular contest, the JD(S), too, seems convinced of winning at least six seats. The seats fell vacant after previous speaker KR Ramesh disqualified 17 Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) legislators, paving the way for the return of BJP’s BS Yediyurappa as the state chief minister.
The disqualification had reduced the effective strength of the 224-member assembly to 208. A party needs 113 to form the government. While the BJP has 105 legislators, the Congress’s strength stands at 66 and the JD(S)’s at 34. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party (KPJP) have one legislator each.
KPJP member R Shankar had later joined the BJP. The assembly also has an independent legislator, while one lawmaker is nominated by the government.
The Supreme Court had upheld disqualification of the 17 legislators, but allowed them to contest the upcoming by-polls.
The BJP needs six more seats to save its government, while victory in 12 seats would enable the Congress-JD(S) combine to reclaim power in the state, though there is no alliance between the two for the bypolls.
But there is a visible divide within the Karnataka Congress over reviving the alliance with the JD(S) to form the government once again. While one section of leaders, comprising former chief minister Siddaramaiah, is not keen, the other does not favour mid-term election.
Senior Congress leader G Parameshwara hinted at the possibility of his party and the JD(S) coming together if the situation arises. “After results on December 9, if the Congress gets more seats, the government will collapse. We will then have the option of joining hands with JD(S) again to form a coalition government or staying out.”
“We will give you good news on December 9,” senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said. “To protect the Constitution and provide social justice with secular principles, we will take necessary steps after discussing with our allies.”
Siddaramaiah has maintained that the Congress, unlike the BJP, would go for mid-term polls rather than form an “unstable minority” government.
From the JD(S)’s side, both former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and his son Kumaraswamy have dropped enough hints about going with the Congress and insisted that Karnataka will see a stable government after the by-elections.
But chief minister BS Yediyurappa expressed confidence about his government completing the full term, and said the question of the BJP taking support of the JD(S) does not arise. Yediyurappa also said he was not “bothered about” the possibilities of the Congress and JD(S) coming together again to form the government.
Political analyst A Narayana of Azim Premji University said developments in Maharashtra will not go beyond the “psychological effect” and claimed that both sides have 50:50 chances.