Turncoats had a field day in the Karnataka Assembly by-elections to 15 segments as 11 of the total 13 of them in the fray after joining the BJP emerged victorious. And now, ministerial berths also awaits them. Only H Vishwanath (Hunsur) and M T B Nagaraj (Hoskote) lost as the BJP's gamble to field the defectors from the Congress and JDS who helped them come to power paid off.
Ten were in the Congress previously and three in the JDS headed by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda. After they switched sides and joined the BJP, the party fielded them in the constituencies they had represented in their previous party.
The 11 winners are: Mahesh Kumatalli (Athani),Srimant Patil (Kagwad), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), A ShivaramHebbar (Yellapur), B C Patil (Hirekerur), Anand Singh(Vijayanagara), Dr K Sudhakar (Chikkaballapura), ByrathiBasavaraj (KR Pura), K Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout), Narayana Gowda (KR Pet) and S T Somashekhar (Yashwanthapura).
The BJP's decision to field Arun Kumar Guththur in Ranebennur in place of disqualified MLA R Shankar, who too had joined the BJP, proved right as he defeated the Congress candidate and former speaker KB Koliwad.
Upbeat over the victory of a majority of turncoats, Hirekerur winning candidate BC Patil said, "They (Congress) had declared us disqualified based on the Supreme Court verdict but the voters made us qualified again."
BJP state chief Nalin Kumar Kateel too expressed similar views. "Siddaramaiah (Congress) and H D Kumaraswamy (JDS) had created a narrative of 'disqualified MLAs' to discredit our candidates but today the Congress and the JD(S) have been disqualified in the people's court which has given the verdict of 'Qualified' to our candidates," Kateel said.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said: "We had given assurance to all the disqualified MLAs that they will be made ministers. So, there is no question of backtracking from what we promised them. We will make them ministers and give them responsibility to grow our party base in their area."
The ruling BJP swept the by-elections winning 12 of the total 15 seats, helping the four-month-old BS Yediyurappa government to retain majority in the Assembly.