Bengaluru: A day after the Supreme Court paved the way for them to contest the December 5 Assembly bypolls in Karnataka, 16 disqualified Congress-JD(S) legislators on Thursday joined the BJP here.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, state BJP chief Nalin Kumar Kateel and National General Secretary in charge of Karnataka, P Muralidhar Rao were among those who welcomed them into the party fold. BJP that aims to win a majority of the 15 constituencies where bypolls will be held is likely to field most of them as the party candidates.
However, R Roshan Baig, a disqualified Congress legislator from Shivajinagar, was not inducted into the party on Thursday. BJP sources cited "reservations" expressed by party leadership over Baig, who is facing inquiry in the IMA ponzi scam, among the reasons for his non-induction.
Interestingly Baig, a seven-time legislator, on Wednesday claimed he will be joining BJP along with the other legislators. The Supreme Court on Wednesday had upheld the disqualification of 17 Congress-JD(S) MLAs in Karnataka by the then Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar but paved the way for them to contest the by-polls. While upholding their disqualification, the apex court set aside the portion of the orders by the then speaker by which the legislators were disqualified till the end of the the current Assembly's term in 2023.
The disqualified Congress MLAs who joined BJP are are: Pratap Gowda Patil (Maski), B C Patil (Hirekerur), Shivram Hebbar (Yellapur), S T Somashekar (Yeshwanthpur), Byrati Basavaraj (K R Puram), Anand Singh (Vijayanagara), N Munirathna (R R Nagar), K Sudhakar (Chikkaballapura), MTB Nagaraj (Hoskote), Shrimant Patil (Kagwad), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Mahesh Kumatalli (Athani) and R Shankar (Ranibennur). JD(S) members who joined the party are: K Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout), AH Vishwanath (Hunsur) and KC Narayana Gowda (K R Pet).
Bypolls to 15 of 17 seats represented by disqualified MLAs, whose resignation and absence from the trust vote had lead to the collapse of H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in July, will be held on December 5.
In Hoskote BJP's rebel and defeated candidate in 2018 assembly polls, Sharath Bachegowda has decided to contest the bypolls independently, with JD(S) also expressing intentions to support him. In Kagwad, former BJP MLA Raju Kage has decided to quit the party and join Congress, which he has claimed has assured him ticket.
BJP will need to win at least six out of those 15 seats to remain in power. Fifteen out of the 17 constituencies represented by these MLAs will be going for bypolls, while by-elections to Maski and RR Nagar constituencies have been withheld as separate cases with regard to them, are pending before the High Court. Of the 15 constituencies, 12 were represented by Congress and three by JD(S).