Hours after the Supreme Court on Wednesday paved the way for the 17 disqualified Congress-JD(S) legislators to contest the December 5 bypolls for 15 seats in Karnataka, Deputy Chief Minister Ashwathnarayan C N said they will be joining the BJP on November 14. "They (disqualified legislators) have expressed interest to join BJP and have met our senior leaders. They have been welcomed to join the party," he said.
Speaking to reporters in Delhi, he said, they will be joining the party tomorrow at 10.30 a.m in Bengaluru in the presence of Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and BJP state President Nalin Kumar Kateel. Some disqualified MLAs along with Ashwathnarayan met B L Santosh, BJP National General Secretary (Organisation), in New Delhi hours after the verdict.
Ashwathnarayan said party leaders and the disqualified legislators will meet Chief Minister and state president on Thursday and decide on the future course of action. "There is no trouble or anything, they want to join the party and will be joining...bypolls and other things will come later," he said. Asked if they have been promised ticket for bypolls, Ashwathnarayan said they are joining with joy and full faith. "They, our friends have no doubt. They are joining the party keeping good faith when they don't have doubts, why you (media) have," he added.
In July this year, 14 MLAs from the Congress and 3 from the JDS quit the Assembly. As the 17 rebels stayed away from the Assembly, the Congress-JD-S government fell during a trust vote on July 23, as a result of which BJP government under Yediyurappa was formed on July 26. However, on July 25 and 28, then-Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar issued two orders under the anti-defection law, disqualifying the 17 MLAs from the House and barring them from contesting elections during the tenure of the current Assembly. The MLAs then moved the top Court asking that the Speaker’s orders be quashed. The Congress and JD-S too approached the court.
In a big relief to the 17 disqualified MLAs in Karnataka, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said that the MLAs can contest the upcoming by-polls in the state. The top court also observed that Citizens are being denied stable governments in the country and that the Speaker's role is to accept the resignation and they have no other option. The judgement was rendered by a three-judge bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna, and Krishna Murari.
The Supreme Court's verdict today will have a bearing on the B S Yediyurappa government in Karnataka. In the 224-member House, BSY currently has the support of 106 MLAs. Bypolls to 15 of 17 vacant seats will be held on December 5. The BJP has to win at least six of the 15 seats to remain in power. With the Supreme Court's decision to allow the rebel MLAs to contest the polls, it is now to be seen whether the BJP will field them as its nominees.
A total of 15 Assembly constituencies in Karnataka are going to bypolls on December 5 and the counting of the votes has been scheduled for December 9. The date for filing nominations for the bypolls to the 15 Assembly seats in Karnataka are from November 11-18. The elections to the 15 Assembly seats were earlier slated for October 21 but later postponed to December 5 by the Election Commission (EC) as the case pertaining to the disqualification of 17 MLAs was pending in the Supreme Court. The judgment on their disqualification was reserved by the apex court in October.