The two month old B.S.Yediyurappa’s government in Karnataka is heavily dependent on the results of the 15 bypolls in the state, scheduled to be held on 21 October, to continue in power and retain its majority when vacancies in the lower house are filled up.
Yediyurappa’s minority government, that came to power after the collapse of the H.D.Kumaraswamy-led Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) and Congress coalition, has to ensure victories in at least eight seats to have a simple majority in the lower house when all vacancies are filled up.
To be sure, only 15 out of the total 17 vacant seats are heading to the bypolls.
Political leaders and analysts say that if the BJP fails to win at least half of the seats headed to the bypolls, then the state could stare at more political uncertainty that had engulfed flood and drought ravaged Karnataka for several weeks since June. The BJP, that is accused of engineering defections to bring down the coalition government, will be forced to get more legislators to switch if it does not get the required numbers, politicians and analysts say.
“This will keep the BJP on tenterhooks," A.Narayana, political analyst and faculty at the Azim Premji University said.
As it stands, the BJP has 104 seats (excluding the speaker) in the lower house, the Congress has 66, the JD(S) has 34, one from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), one independent and one nominated member.
The task may not be easy as the BJP faces opposition from within its own ranks in addition to the Congress or JD(S). Several BJP ticket aspirants, who lost by slender margins to the rebels in last years elections in these constituencies, are now speaking up for being overlooked in the bypolls and placating the disqualified former legislators. Shah has already kept Yediyurappa on a tight leash by nominating three deputy chief ministers and a slip up in the bypolls could add to the problems.
The arrest of D.K.Shivakumar also saw the mobilisation of the dominant Vokkaliga community in the state, that may go against the BJP and its plans to win seats in Bengaluru and other parts of south Karnataka.
The JD(S) and Congress, that have formally broken off the coalition, is hoping to get some victories to get back at the BJP. But the two sides have asked its workers not just to prepare for the bypolls but for re-elections as both believe that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah are unlikely to allow Yediyurappa to continue in power for too long. The 76 year old is under pressure by the rebels who are hoping for relief from the Supreme Court (SC) that is expected to hear the case regarding their disqualification by former Karnataka assembly speaker, K.R.Ramesh Kumar.
Supreme Court is expected to hear the case on Monday.