Fifteen of the 17 disqualified Congress and JD(S) MLAs joined the BJP on Thursday, and the saffron party promptly announced the candidature of 13 of them for constituencies they have vacated, which go to the bypolls on December 5.
Former BJP leader Raju Kage, a four-term MLA from Kagwad, joined the Congress in protest against the ruling party’s decision to induct, and field, his rival Shrimant Patil — then a Congress candidate, Patil had defeated Kage from Kagwad constituency by over 33,000 votes in last year’s Assembly elections.
While 17 legislators had quit the then ruling coalition, precipitating its fall and the BJP’s assumption of power, the saffron party inducted 15 of them.
Disqualified MLAs Roshan Baig, former Congressman who is under CBI investigation in the multi-crore IMA Ponzi scheme scam, and R Shankar, Independent MLA who joined forces with the Congress after last year’s Assembly polls, were not inducted into the party.
Two other MLAs who joined BJP — Prathapgouda Patil and N Munirathna — were not given tickets for the by-elections since court cases are pending over elections in their constituencies. By-elections are not being held in these constituencies in this round.
Incidentally, Baig’s son Ruman had on Wednesday tweeted that his father would join the BJP. From Shivajinagar, which Baig represented in the Assembly, BJP announced the candidature of former corporator and Baig associate M Sharavana.
The BJP has not announced a candidate for Ranebennur seat, vacated by R Shankar, in what is seen as a possible move to support his entry into the poll fray again as an Independent.
The BJP government of B S Yediyurappa will have to win at least six seats to retain majority in the Assembly.
The Chief Minister on Thursday said, “The previous government did not do enough for development of the state and in constituencies of these MLAs. So they quit their parties and joined the BJP to facilitate development. They made great sacrifices for BJP by quitting as legislators.”
“We are fulfilling promises made to these legislators when they quit their parties. We are not letting them down. All BJP leaders — at both the state and the national level — are with these MLAs. We will make all efforts to ensure their victory,” Yediyurappa told BJP workers at an event to induct the 15 leaders.
BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao said, “A victory for BJP in these bypolls will strengthen and stabilise the Yediyurappa government. Party workers must work together to ensure this. All legislators who have joined will have a good future in BJP.”
Meanwhile, on Kage joining the Congress, former CM Siddaramaiah said, “Raju Kage is a good politician. He is not an arrogant person. We welcome him into the party — his presence will strengthen our party in Belagavi region. He has not imposed any conditions.”
JD(S) leader and former CM H D Kumaraswamy announced support for BJP’s rebel candidate Sharath Bachegowda, who is set to contest from Hoskote, near Bengaluru, and will take on disqualified Congress legislator M T B Nagaraj, who is contesting for BJP now.
Kumaraswamy has rejected suggestions that the JD(S) will offer support to the BJP to help it remain in power in case the party fails to win the minimum six seats. “All 17 MLAs who deserted the coalition government must lose,” he said.