Karnataka

Judgment day for disqualified legislators

For nearly three months, the disqualified MLAs have been anxious about their fate after former Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified them following their resignations

For nearly three months, the disqualified MLAs have been anxious about their fate after former Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified them following their resignations   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

Parties have been awaiting the Supreme Court order to set their agenda and decide on candidates for byelections

The political uncertainty around disqualification of rebel Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) legislators is expected to see a closure on Wednesday with the Supreme Court listing the case for order in the morning.

The court’s ruling will also set off political activity as parties have been waiting for the order to set their agenda and decide on candidates ahead of the scheduled bypolls on December 5, even though the model code of conduct came into place on Monday.

Anxious days

For nearly three months, the disqualified legislators have been anxious about their fate after former Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified them in July following their resignations, which brought down the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition and paved the way for B.S. Yediyurappa to form the government on a wafer-thin margin.

The Speaker had disqualified them under provisions of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution while the legislators had argued that they had resigned voluntarily.

The court decision will seal the fate on whether or not the disqualified legislators will be able to contest in the byelection even as the election process to 15 Assembly constituencies commenced on Monday.

For the disqualified legislators, the BJP is learnt to have promised ticket on the party symbol to contest if the court quashes the Speaker’s decision to disqualify them. In case the court upholds the Speaker’s decision, the legislators have been told that their choice of nominees — whether a family member or anyone — will be offered ticket. In the case of most legislators, one or the other family member is clued in with political development and willing to contest while a few disqualified legislators could have problem fielding their family members on their behalf as they are not politically inclined.

Though 17 legislators — 14 from Congress (including one Independent, who merged with the Congress) and 3 from JD(S) — had resigned, elections are being held in 15 seats. In two Assembly constituencies — R.R. Nagar and Maski — elections have not been declared owing to the ongoing election-related cases in court.

Political calculations

Political circles are agog with strategic calculations on what may happen with the Supreme Court order. In the past, the Election Commission, which had notified the byelections on October 11 along with elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, had to postpone it after the disqualified legislators approached the court seeking directions to postpone till the court decided on their issue.

Meanwhile, two BJP leaders who had lost to Congress legislators — now disqualified — have moved towards the Congress seeking ticket from the party. The bait of BJP’s leadership dangling plum posts in boards and corporations before eight local party leaders, who could upset the party’s calculation in those constituencies, have not been taken by all, resulting in some serious introspection and source of worry for Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa.

The byelection results are important for the BJP to remain in power and it has to win at least six out of 15 constituencies. Currently, of the total 224 (excluding one nominated member) seats, 17 are vacant with the BJP having the majority with 105 seats, and Congress and JD(S) 66 and 34 seats respectively. The two others are an expelled BSP member and an Independent, who is now Minister.

Search for candidates

As it now looks certain that BJP’s search for its candidates in 15 constituencies will either end up with the disqualified legislators or their family members, the Congress has announced names of candidates in eight constituencies and is waiting for the move of local leaders from the BJP before deciding on its candidates in seven others.

The JD(S), which lost three legislators to ‘Operation Lotus’ by the BJP, is yet to decide on the number of constituencies that it will contest. It, however, has already made its intention clear about saving the Yediyurappa government irrespective of the results, citing that the party is not ready for midterm polls.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 11:21:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/judgment-day-for-disqualified-legislators/article29956243.ece

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