Karnataka bypolls: six key questions and possible scenarios


Bypolls in Karnataka are scheduled to take place on December 5, 2019 and results will be announced on December 9, 2019.

Byelections will be held in 17 Assembly constituencies in Karnataka on December 5 and the results will be declared on December 9. The State has seen change of government three times. Will the bypoll result bring in another change? Your questions, answered.

Why bypolls now in Karnataka?

The defection of 17 members of the Assembly – 13 from Congress, three from Janata Dal (Secular) and one independent – resulted in the fall of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in July. It was alleged that they were lured by the BJP with promise of money and ministerial berths. Soon after, the then Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified them under provisions of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. This necessitated bypolls for the constituencies of disqualified MLAs.

Bypolls are on December 5 (Thursday) and results on December 9 (Monday).

Which are the constituencies going to the polls?

Seven constituencies in North Karnataka (Gokak, Athani, Kagwad, Ranebennur, Hirekeruru, Yellapur and Vijayangar), two in Old Mysore region (K.R. Pete and Hunsur) and six in Bengaluru City and areas abutting it (Mahalakshmi Layout, Yeshwantpur, K.R. Puram, Shivajigar, Hoskote and Chikkaballapur) will be going to the polls.

How many disqualified MLAs are in fray?

With the Supreme Court upholding the disqualification but allowing the disqualified MLAs to contest, as many as 13 of them are in fray out of 15 going to polls. The exceptions are Independent MLAs S. Shankar and Roshan Baig. While the former has joined BJP, latter has not been taken into the saffron partyfold. Elections to two constituencies – Rajarajeshwari Nagar and Maski – are withheld owing to pending election malpractice cases.

What does it take for the BJP government led by B.S. Yediyurappa to survive?

The BJP has to win at least six seats out of 15 to retain power in the State.

Currently, out of the total strength of 224 + 1 (nominated member) in the Assembly, 17 seats are vacant, caused by disqualification. BJP has 105 members. It also enjoys the support of one independent MLA (H. Nagesh), who is a minister in the government. Congress and JD(S) have 67 and 34 respectively.

With two seats still remaining vacant, the Assembly strength will be 223 and simple majority 112.

What if the BJP fails to win at least six seats?

This will render the government a minority and throw open the floor again for possible political realignments or mid-term polls.

However, each party and sections of leaders of within them are divided on how this could pan out.

JD(S), a possible “king maker” in such a scenario, has kept its options wide open. Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has earlier said that he is not for bringing down the government “in the interest of people”, hinting at a possible support to the BJP Government if the need arises. His father and party supremo, H.D. Deve Gowda, who earlier said the party is not ready for another round of polls, has more recently said that it is really up to Congress President Sonia Gandhi. His son too has been ambivalent of late.

In Congress, a section of leaders – including Mallikarjun Kharge, G. Parameshwara and D.K. Shivakumar – have been warming up to the idea of reopening the alliance with the JD(S), which had fallen apart with the fall of the government. However, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah is not keen on it. He has said that both BJP and JD(S) are equal opponents for the Congress in the bypolls, while adding that it is finally up to Ms. Sonia to decide. He has been talking through the campaign about the possibility of mid-term polls.

Meanwhile, Mr. Yediyurappa has been claiming that Congress is only “dreaming” since the verdict will decisively go in his party’s favour.

What have been the major poll narratives?

BJP has been campaigning in the name of “stability”, saying that the State is not ready for one more round of elections or an “unsteady” coalition government.

Both Congress and JD(S) have been playing up the “betrayal” issue, saying that the disqualified MLAs have let down their parties and the constituencies they represent, forcing another bypoll on the State.

Caste issue has been the constant undercurrent. Mr. Yediyurappa and his supporters have played up the Lingayat-Veerashaiva card (the community to which he belongs). Election Commission has filed two cases against him for making caste-based appeal. There is an apparent consolidation of Vokkaliga caste (the support base of the JD(S)) in response, with Mr. Kumaraswamy playing up the issue in some constituencies.

The pressing issues floods -- that affected as many as 22 out of 30 districts and left death and destruction in its wake – and the apparent poor rehabilitation efforts have hardly resonated through the campaign.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 5:00:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-bypolls-six-key-questions-and-possible-scenarios/article30158745.ece

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