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TV exit polls show BJP retaining power in Karnataka

Many exit polls conducted by local TV channels in Karnataka have predicted the BJP to win eight seats or more, providing chief minister BS Yediyurappa some breather ahead of the counting of votes scheduled for Monday.

ET Bureau|
Dec 09, 2019, 10.56 AM IST
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The bypoll is also significant to Congress leader Siddaramaiah, as winning more number of seats and destabilising the BJP government would reiterate his leadership in the party.

Many exit polls conducted by local TV channels in Karnataka have predicted the BJP to win eight seats or more, providing chief minister BS Yediyurappa some breather ahead of the counting of votes scheduled for Monday. Fifteen Assembly seats faced bypolls on Thursday with 13 disqualified MLAs in the fray.

The chief minister told reporters on Sunday that he was confident the BJP will win 13 seats, while the Congress and JD(S) will win one seat each. His regime will complete its full term, and will again return to power with about 150 seats, he said.

Leaders including Yediyurappa and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda visited temples on Sunday ahead of the crucial counting. Yediyurappa has already set aside 15 Cabinet berths vacant to fill them with the new BJP MLAs.

Since the exit polls are not predicting a sweep for the BJP, quite a few senior BJP leaders including Murugesh Nirani, Umesh Katti and MP Renukacharya are said to be exerting pressure within the party for accommodation in the ministry.

The chief minister can no way rehabilitate the losers from among the disqualified lawmakers in the ministry in view of the Supreme Court judgement upholding the Assembly Speaker’s order. “None of us (17 disqualified members) have asked for ministership from the chief minister. I will work for my constituency even if I were to lose,” BJP candidate from Yeshwanthpur ST Somashekar said.

In Thursday’s bypoll, Hoskote registered the highest turnout of 91%, while KR Pura came lowest with 47%. All 15 constituencies put together, however, registered an average turnout of 68%. All the three political parties — the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress and JD(S) — are waiting with bated breath for the results as Yediyurappa needs to win seven seats to retain his grip over the government. He can probably still run the government if the BJP wins at least five seats, but only with the support of the BSP MLA and an independent. In such an event, independents will hold the key to his regime’s survival.

JD(S) leader Basavaraja Horatti expressed concern that if the BJP were to fall short of numbers, it might resort to another round of ‘Operation Lotus”, suggesting that the party might ask some Opposition lawmakers to resign their seats to bring down the overall strength of the House. In the 222-member Karnataka Assembly, the BJP has to maintain a majority mark of 112 if it has to retain power.

The number of seats with the BJP at present is 105. Two other seats - RR Nagar and Maski - have not gone to the polls as last year’s election of MLAs are under litigation before the high court.

The bypoll is also significant to Congress leader Siddaramaiah, as winning more number of seats and destabilising the BJP government would reiterate his leadership in the party.

The JD(S), on the other hand, has been giving mixed signals of backing either the BJP or the Congress based on the poll outcome.

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