Bypoll results hold key to BJP government’s stability in Karnataka

Police personnel stand guard at the Government Polytechnic College counting centre in K.R. Pet town of Mandya district on December 8, 2019.

Police personnel stand guard at the Government Polytechnic College counting centre in K.R. Pet town of Mandya district on December 8, 2019.   | Photo Credit: THE HINDU

Results could have repercussions on Oppn. parties too; all eyes on performance of Congress, which lost 14 MLAs to defections

Will Monday’s results of the bypolls for 15 Assembly constituencies bring curtains down on the State’s saga of political upheavals that has drawn on for over four months, or will it be the beginning of another?

Not only is the stability of the B.S. Yediyurappa-led BJP government in question, but also the political survival of 13 disqualified legislators who are now contesting on the BJP symbol. Also, the performance of the Congress in the bypolls would be a reflection on former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s leadership.

The BJP with a strength of 105 legislators (and an Independent) enjoys a majority and requires to win a minimum of six seats out of 15 Assembly constituencies. The elections to Rajarajeshwari Nagar and Maski Assembly constituencies have been deferred owing to election-related petitions.

For Mr. Yediyurappa, who is accused of engineering defections of 14 Congress and three Janata Dal (Secular) legislators, a positive result would not only give stability to the government, but also strengthen his own position in the party and the government. BJP insiders believe that he could emerge stronger within the party if it wins at least 10 seats, which will also give them a comfortable majority in the House. “In a way, a favourable result will also legitimise the earlier Operation Lotus,” sources said.

Having spent anxious months, the disqualified legislators whose resignations in June early this year triggered the collapse of the H.D. Kumaraswamy led JD(S)-Congress coalition, are eager to return to the House though the fate of a few is in doubt. If elected, Mr. Yediyurappa has promised to make them Ministers, and in case of a defeat their political future could be in jeopardy unless the BJP accommodates them in the Legislative Council.

In the Opposition ranks, all eyes will be on the performance of the Congress, which lost 14 legislators to defections, some of whom were seen in close circles of Mr. Siddaramaiah. Though Mr. Siddaramaiah, throughout the campaign, claimed that the Congress would win at least 12 seats, doubts were sown even before candidate selection as a section of senior Congress leaders aired their discontent with the choices and subsequently stayed away from electioneering. A poor performance of the Congress could reflect on Mr. Siddaramaiah’s leadership, and a demand for replacing him from those who identify themselves as “original Congressmen” could gather steam.

Of all the parties, the JD(S), which is fighting to remain politically relevant, could be in a precarious position. The party leadership, including former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and Mr. Kumaraswamy, has been changing its stance from unilaterally announcing support to the BJP government to hoping for renewal of ties with the Congress. According to JD(S) sources, the changing stance could affect the party’s chances. In an eventuality of BJP getting a majority of its own, the JD(S) could be in a vulnerable position as at least half a dozen of its legislators are sitting on the fence waiting to jump over to the BJP.

While political circles acknowledge that the ruling dispensation will have an edge over the Opposition in bypolls, the high voter turnout has kept everyone guessing. If voters have voted for stability, the BJP will sail through and if it is a vote upholding disqualification, the stage could be set for part-II of political instability.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 12:23:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/bypoll-results-hold-key-to-bjp-govts-stability/article30239611.ece

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