Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa looks set to retain power in the state as early trends in the counting of votes for December 5 bypolls are giving his party, an edge. As per the latest EC trends, BJP leading in 12 seats, Congress leading in 2 seats and an Independent leading in 1 seat. Senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar amid the counting of votes addressed the media and accepted the party's defeat in the by-elections.
DK Shivakumar said, "We have to agree with the mandate of the voters of these 15 constituencies. People have accepted the defectors. We have accepted defeat. I don't think we have to be disheartened. We need not lose hope, byelections are different than general elections. Results are results, I do not want to defer with the results. I am confident that as far as Karnataka is concerned, Congress party has a very strong hold. It will not vanish. No one can remove Congress."
The Supreme Court last month upheld the disqualification of the 17 even as it allowed them to contest the bypolls. KR Ramesh Kumar, the then Karnataka Assembly Speaker, disqualified the 17 under the anti-defection law and barred them from contesting polls until the term of the current House ends in 2023.
Bypolls were held on Thursday for 15 of 17 assembly seats left vacant by MLAs who resigned in July, causing the collapse of the Congress-Janata Dal Secular (JDS) coalition and the BJP's takeover. The BJP has to win at least seven seats to claim a majority in the assembly, which will have 222 members after the bypolls. Two seats are still vacant. The BJP currently has 105 MLAs and the support of one independent candidate, while the Congress has 66 and the JDS 34.
“We will win with a lead of 25,000-30,000 votes in most of the constituencies and according to our estimate, we are confident of winning all 15 seats,” Yediyurappa told reporters on Saturday.
Deputy chief minister C N Ashwathnarayan said the BJP would win a maximum number of seats, adding that a stable and strong government would continue in the state. The BJP fielded 13 of the disqualified legislators, who joined the party after the Supreme Court’s verdict, in the bypolls. They had won these seats in the 2018 assembly elections on Congress and JD(S) tickets. The Congress held the 12 of the 15 seats and the JD (S) the remaining three.