Disqualified Congress-JDS MLAs would be given BJP tickets for the bypolls if they wanted, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said on Monday, amid growing opposition in some quarters within the party against any such move. He said party President Amit Shah has said it was “our responsibility” to give tickets to the former MLAs.
The rebellion by the then MLAs had led to the fall of the Congress-JDS government in July paving the way for the BJP to come back to power in the southern state. Byelections to the constituencies held by them are slated in December.
Yediyurappa tried to pacify ticket aspirants within the BJP and candidates defeated in the 2018 assembly polls, saying “opportunity” will be created for them in state-run boards and corporations.
“By-elections are coming up, dates have been announced for 15 seats, Amit Shah has said that those who have resigned and want to contest from BJP, all of them will be given seats (tickets), it is our responsibility,” he told reporters in his hometown of Shikaripura in Shimoga district.
Seeking to clear the air in the backdrop of opposition to giving tickets to them, the chief minister said there was no need for any confusion.
“If you desire to contest from our party, priority will be given to you in making you candidates. BJP karyakartas and leaders will take responsibility for your victory,” he said.
His comments assume significance as there has been growing opposition within sections of the state BJP against giving bypoll tickets to the disqualified MLAs.
Aspirants and party candidates defeated in the 2018 assembly polls in segments including Hosakote, Hirekerur, Kagwad and Mahalakshmi Layout, have said tickets should be given to loyal party cadres who have worked to build BJP.
Senior BJP MLA Umesh Katti on Sunday had said the disqualified MLAs “will have to find their way.”
Reaching out to aspirants within the party, Yediyurappa said after discussion in the cabinet in 3-4 days, opportunity would be created in boards and corporations for 10-12 BJP leaders who had lost the 2018 polls by narrow margin.
“The opportunity will be created for them so that they will work for the victory of those (disqualified MLAs) who were responsible for the party coming to power,” he added.
Welcoming Yediyurappa’s statement, disqualified Congress MLA B C Patil said, “It is a matter of happiness. We will all sit together and decide on it in the future.”
Stating that disqualified MLAs have not yet discussed about joining BJP, he said, “let the court decide on our disqualification, then we will discuss on it and come to a decision.”
The bypolls to 15 out of 17 seats represented by them has been scheduled for December 5 even as the Supreme Court, hearing their pleas challenging the disqualification, is yet to decide on their eligibility to contest the polls.
Though the MLAs had submitted their resignations from the assembly, then Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar, acting on petitions by Congress and JDS, disqualified them for alleged anti-party activities under the anti-defection law till the expiry of the term of the current assembly in 2023.
Among the 15 constituencies going for polls, 12 were represented by Congress and 3 by JD(S).
BJP will need to win at least six seats in the coming by-elections to stay in power.
The ruling party has 104 MLAs and is supported by an independent in the assembly whose current strength is 208 with 17 vacancies.
While the Congress’ strength is 66, JD(S) has 34 MLAs in the assembly that also consists of one BSP member, a nominated member and the Speaker.
The actual strength of the assembly is 225 and the half way mark is 113.