The Economic Times

Karnataka bypolls: 8 things you need to know

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​Can Yediyurappa pull it off?
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​Can Yediyurappa pull it off?

The crucial byelections to 15 assembly constituencies in Karnataka on December 5 will determine the fate of chief minister BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government in the state.

The elections are going on in Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapura, Hirekerur, Ranibennur, Vijaynagara, Chickballapura, KR Pura, Yeshwanthpura, Mahalakshmi Layout, Shivajinagara, Hosakote, KR Pete and Hunsur. The results will be declared on December 9.

Agencies
​Why are byelections being held?
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​Why are byelections being held?

The byelections were necessitated due to the disqualification of the 17 — 14 Congress and three JD(S) rebel legislators — after they resigned from their assembly seats in July in protest against the former coalition government's poor functioning.

The coalition government of JD(S) and Congress was led by HD Kumaraswamy. The Supreme Court on November 13 upheld the disqualification of all the 17 legislators by previous assembly speaker KR Ramesh Kumar but allowed them to re-contest the byelections.

BCCL
​Assembly strength
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​Assembly strength

The resignation of 14 MLAs from Congress and 3 from the JD(S) in July had led to the fall of the 14-month-old JD(S)-Congress government and paved the way for the BJP to take power. With the disqualification of the 17 MLAs, the assembly strength was reduced from 225 to 208.

With 15 seats going to polls, the current Karnataka assembly strength is 222 (excluding the nominated member). Bypolls in two seats -- Muski (Raichur district) and RR Nagar (Bengaluru) -- have been withheld due to litigation in the Karnataka high court over their results in the May 2018 state assembly elections.

BCCL
​Disqualified legislators
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​Disqualified legislators

Thirteen of the disqualified MLAs have been fielded by the BJP after they joined the party last month following the Supreme Court allowing them to contest the bypolls. BJP has fielded 13 of the 16 disqualified legislators as its candidates from their respective constituencies from where they had won in the 2018 assembly elections on Congress and JD(S) tickets.

BCCL
​What is at stake for BJP and Yediyurappa?
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​What is at stake for BJP and Yediyurappa?

For Yediyurappa, the outcome will decide how long he remains in power. Aware that his fate hinges on the byelections, Yediyurappa is going all out to win most of the seats. The BJP needs to win at least six of the 15 seats to retain the majority. In the assembly with the current strength of 208 after the disqualifications, the BJP has 105 MLAs (including an independent), the Congress 66 and the JD(S) has 34 MLAs. There is also one BSP member, a nominated member and the Speaker.

BCCL
​The jinx
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​The jinx

Yediyurappa was on July 26 sworn in as chief minister of Karnataka after a high political drama in the state. Yediyurappa, who became CM for the fourth time, has never completed a full term. Apart from last year's two-day stint, he also holds the record of leading a coalition government for the least number of days in Karnataka — seven days from November 12 to 23, 2007. His longest tenure as CM was between May 2008 and August 2011 before being forced to resign over a corruption scandal. Yediyurappa would be banking on the rebels to get him past the already-truncated term and break the jinx. But will they deliver?

PTI
​Kumaraswamy's fate
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​Kumaraswamy's fate

For Kumaraswamy, the bypolls are a huge test as the entire party is fighting to stay relevant. He has a lot at stake, especially since he is increasingly said to be losing credibility within the JD(S) rank and file. Many leaders of the party are not only cosying up to the BJP, but are doing it openly. The former CM has the task of proving his leadership skills by ensuring the JD(S) retains the three seats it won in last year’s assembly elections. An adverse result could well mean the end of the road for Kumaraswamy and the JD(S).

PTI
​What can go against BJP and in favour of Congress?
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​What can go against BJP and in favour of Congress?

Some experts say that Congress can benefit as many voters may like to punish rebel MLAs for defecting to BJP. Some BJP supporters are also not happy with tickets being given to outsiders (the disqualified MLAs) staying away from mobilising voters and this would also help the Congress.

BCCL
​Post-poll scenario
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​Post-poll scenario

Even if some of the rebel legislators lose, the BJP government won't face a no-confidence motion till at least January 29 (six months from the last one on July 29). The difference between the last and the coming elections, however, is that the Congress and JD(S) are no longer allies.

But speculations are rife about Congress and JD(S) not being averse to joining hands once again to form a coalition government in case the BJP fails to garner the required number of seats to stay in majority. Political parties and officials were of the view that there is a general feeling among the public at large against the bypolls and political developments that led to it and this might affect the turnout.

(With inputs from agencies)

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