Karnataka: Yediyurappa returns as CM, rebel MLAs left out in the cold

BS Yediyurappa won the trust vote and became the Chief Minister of Karnataka but the 17 rebel and now disqualified MLAs were seen lamenting the uncertainty they are facing now

Photo Courtesy: PTI
Photo Courtesy: PTI

KV Lakshmana

Karnataka state BJP chief, BS Yediyurappa on Monday won the trust vote as Chief Minister bringing the political crisis that gripped the state after 17 rebel Congress and JD (S) MLAs resigned apparently to an end.

Predictably Yediyurappa who added an ‘i’ to his name, won the trust vote with ease as numbers were clearly with him – after the `105 BJP MLAs stood rock solid as one block to firmly entrench their leader as the Chief Minister.

Assembly speaker KR Ramesh Kumar resigned minutes after Yediyurappa won the trust vote and handed over his resignation to deputy speaker Krishna Reddy. But before resigning on Sunday, he disqualified all the rebel MLAs, who are, in the whole process, got left out and were seen lamenting that neither the BJP nor their parent parties bothered about them.

“We have been badly let down by the BJP which promised to make us ministers the moment they formed the government,” lamented a former MLA to media persons. The disqualification order is illegal, maintained AH Vishwanath. “We will approach the Supreme Court on Monday against the speaker’s decision,” he said. Legal experts do wonder whether the speaker’s decision on barring disqualified MLAs from contesting elections till end of the term of the current house would be legally tenable.

The rebel MLAs have declared that they will move the Supreme Court against their disqualification, which has thrown up larger questions about anti-defection law and its efficacy.

In all, 17  rebels had revolted against their respective party leadership and ‘escaped’ to the secure environs of the BJP-ruled Maharashtra in a clear violation of the party’s wishes and commands. Congress and JD (S) leadership had petitioned the speaker for their disqualification on the grounds that they violated party directives.

The Speaker, who delayed taking a decision on the resignations of the MLAs, first disqualified three MLAs and then on Sunday disqualified the rest of the 14 till 2023 with a directive that these disqualified MLAs cannot even contest any elections till the end of that period when the tenure of the current assembly ends.

What the disqualification means is that these former MLAs are barred from contesting assembly polls during the term of the current assembly, unless mid term polls are declared, and can also not hold any constitutional posts during this period.

The disqualification brought the strength of the house to 208 and also brought down the magic number in a house to 104, which the BJP has on its own.

For the BJP, the disqualification meant good news as it wont have to pander to the demands of the turncoats and in fact does not even have to depend on them for support to stay in power.

Now that the MLAs are disqualified, the Election Commission will have to hold by elections to the 17 vacancies caused by the disqualification.

Now, the longevity of the Yediyurappa government will depend on the outcome of these assembly by-polls if and when they are held. Much like the 22 assembly by elections held in Tamil Nadu along with the Lok Sabha elections earlier in May, the future assembly by-polls in Karnataka would also have the potential to once again change the political futures of the key players.

If the Congress – JD (S) combine, whether individually or collectively, retain all the seats they had won in 2018 assembly elections with fresh candidates, it would mean another round of instability as far as Karnataka government is concerned.

At present, the strength of the Congress and JD (S), including the speaker, is 100. If they win all the 17 seats in the bye-elections, then clearly the numbers game will play out once again.

Hence, the BJP will focus on winning a majority of the seats so that the government can continue undisturbed.

If the Lok Sabha results are projected into assembly seats, the odds favour the BJP. Also, since it is the ruling party, it has more firepower at its command when it comes to various welfare schemes to woo the voters.

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