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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Explained: What to watch in the Karnataka Legislative Council election results today

The BJP is wary of the Congress (which has 29 seats) joining hands with the JD(S) to oppose any contentious legislation drafted by the BJP government, such as the proposed law to ban religious conversions in the state.

Written by Johnson T A , Edited by Explained Desk | Bengaluru |
Updated: December 14, 2021 8:11:08 am
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai cast his vote for Karnataka Legislative Council elections | Facebook/BasavarajBommai

The results of an election for 25 seats in the Karnataka Legislative Council, held on December 10, will be announced on Tuesday (December 14). With a third of the seats in the 75-member upper chamber of the state legislature up for grabs, the elections are important for both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress in the run-up to the Karnataka Assembly polls of 2023.

There is a possibility of change in the composition of the Vidhan Parishad after the results are declared. The BJP, which has 32 seats in the upper house, is looking to obtain a clear majority so that it is able to dictate the legislative agenda without having to depend on the support of the opposition Janata Dal (Secular), which has 12 members in the Council, including the chairman.

The BJP is wary of the Congress (which has 29 seats) joining hands with the JD(S) to oppose any contentious legislation drafted by the BJP government, such as the proposed law to ban religious conversions in the state.

The Vidhan Parishad polls are also seen as important for the future of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai — given the BJP’s embarrassing defeat in last month’s Assembly byelection for the Hanagal seat, which is part of the CM’s home district of Haveri (and Haveri Lok Sabha constituency).

What led to the Legislative Council elections of December 10?

The Legislative Council polls were held because the six-year terms of 25 elected members of the House will come to an end on January 5, 2022. Of the members who will retire on January 5, the Congress has 15, the BJP 6, and the JD(S) 4. The BJP hopes to wrest a sizable number of seats from the Congress, while both the opposition parties would like to at least hold on to their positions in the House.

Who were the voters in these elections?

The voters were over 1 lakh elected representatives from local bodies — members of gram panchayats, town panchayats, MLAs, etc. — in 20 districts of the state. Two seats each are at stake in as many as five districts.

All parties have fielded wealthy candidates with significant purchasing power — Congress candidate Yusuf Sharif, for example, is a real estate businessman with a declared wealth of Rs 1,744 crore.

The BJP and Congress contested all 25 seats; the JD(S) 6 seats.

So why are these Legislative Council polls significant?

It is so mainly because the elections present the BJP with an opportunity to wrest control of the House. It is keen to take perhaps 7-8 of the Congress’s 15 seats. As the Winter Session of the Karnataka legislature began in Belagavi on Monday (December 13), the government was undecided on introducing the proposed anti-conversion Bill, which runs the risk of defeat in the present Council.

Another seven seats in the Council are set to fall vacant on June 14 — and with some successes now as well as in the elections that will be held next year, the BJP sees a chance to wrest control of the upper chamber by mid-2022.

For Chief Minister Bommai, the elections are important to establish his authority after the defeat in Hanagal on October 30. Bommai has predicted the BJP would win a sizable number of seats in the polls. Other leaders such as former CM B S Yediyurappa, who has been involved in the BJP’s campaign for these elections — have predicted around 15 seats for the party.

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