Karnataka: Good News For Yediyurappa As SC Allows “Disqualified” MLAs To Contest Elections
The bypolls are crucial for the present BJP government to continue to be in power as the majority mark goes up to 112 with the total number of assembly seats now at 222.
The sword of indecisiveness that hung on the heads of the 17 ‘disqualified’ members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) in Karnataka has finally been taken off.
The Supreme Court announced its decision on Thursday (13 November) upholding the disqualification of the ‘rebel’ MLAs but wrote off the clause prohibiting them from contesting elections.
A three-member bench of Justices N V Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna, and Krishna Murari announced the decision today after having reserved the orders on 25 October.
This means the 17 Congress and JDS MLAs — whose resignation had led to the fall of the coalition government and made way for the B S Yediyurappa-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to stake a claim and form the government — will now be able to contest the bypolls.
The MLAs had been disqualified by then assembly speaker, Ramesh Kumar, under the anti-defection law in July this year (2019). They had then questioned this disqualification and moved the Supreme Court against the order and the prohibition from contesting elections.
The resignation cum disqualification had brought the strength of the house to 207 from the previous 224, thereby bringing the majority required to 104.
After a lot of political drama and legal tussles that followed the resignations, Yediyurappa finally was sworn in as the Chief Minister on 26 July 2019, as the BJP had won from 106 constituencies.
However, the sword of instability continued to hang over the political arena as the fate of the ‘disqualified’ MLAs was in the hands of the apex court. In that sense, this ruling brings clarity to the chaotic political environment in the state.
The apex court has however barred the former MLAs from holding any important positions like that of ministerial berths until the bypoll results are out.
With this latest order, the legislators can contest the bypolls, which are less than a month away. Fifteen out of 17 constituencies will be going to polls on 5 December.
Elections in the other two constituencies of Maski and Rajarajeshwarinagar will be held only after the petitions pertaining to them that are pending in the Karnataka High Court are decided upon.
While the Congress has announced its candidates in eight constituencies, the BJP and JD(S) are yet to put out their list of candidates.
While there is news of these ‘disqualified’ MLAs joining the BJP, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa only welcomed the judgement and said the party would make all preparations for winning these 17 seats.
He refrained from commenting on the prospects of them joining the saffron party and said that decision in this regard would be taken following a core-committee meeting with the rebel leaders.
The bypolls are crucial for the present government to continue to be in power as the majority mark goes up to 112 with the total number of assembly seats now at 222. This means that the BJP will need to win at least six of the 15 seats to stay in power by itself.
But given that the coalition is now in tatters — with the JD(S) distancing itself clearly from the Congress; the Congress too not in the best of shape with the return of D K Shivakumar upsetting Siddaramaiah ’s power and position within the party; and the JD(S) supremo clearly vouching for Yediyurappa as the CM for the next three and a half years — the present government may have more going for it than against it.
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