Crucial byelections for 15 seats in Karnataka has so far witnessed a poor turnout of the voters even as the fate of the Yediyurappa-led BJP government hangs in balance. The Election Commission (EC) numbers show only 27.19% voter turnout till 1 pm. Amidst multiple controversies, 13 of the disqualified legislators are seeking re-elections, this time on a BJP ticket.
Currently, the BJP has 105 MLAs and the support of an independent MLA who is part of the Yediyurappa cabinet, bringing the number to 106. The Congress and JDS have 66 and 34 MLAs respectively. In the truncated assembly, after 17 MLAs were disqualified, BJP enjoys a wafer-thin majority and needs to win at least 6 seats to secure a simple majority in the bypolls to continue in power.
In case the BJP fails to win 6 seats, then the Yediyurappa government could collapse. Other possibilities include more defections from Congress and JDS to BJP or also a chance of JDS offering external support to BJP to continue in power. The statements of senior leaders of Congress and JDs also indicates that if BJP does not get the required numbers, the two parties could reconsider their previous alliance to form the government again.
The BJP has been seeking votes in favour of ‘stability’, claiming that if the voters bless them with more seats than the opposition parties, CM Yediyurappa can provide a stable government as opposed to an alliance government or even possibly mid-term polls. The opposition parties, Congress and JDs, have been appealing to their voters to teach the MLAs who defected to BJP, alleging they did so for money and power, to be taught a lesson by defeating them and the party that poached them. They have been asking the voters to avenge the supposed betrayal of the MLAs not just to the opposition parties but also to the voters and constituency.
An air against defections which is being perceived as the disqualified MLAs for money and power RSS not campaigning in key areas: in constituencies like Yeshwantpur and KR Puram, sources have told Republic that the RSS has asked its grassroots workers not to campaign as the candidates from BJP are those who have come from Congress with over 5000 supporters each.
The star campaigner and the vote swingers who BJP relies on, PM Modi and HM Shah, have not campaigned for the bypolls.
Perception that a vote in their favour is against stability, especially given how their tenure was plagued with uncertainty and infighting.
With their most bankable candidates for each of the constituency having defected to BJP with a large chunk of their supporters, the opposition parties found it challenging to find suitable and winnable candidates.