Bengaluru: Bypolls to 15 out of the total 17 vacant assembly seats in Karnataka will be held on 21 October, Election Election Commission of India (EC) said today. The announcement comes even as the Supreme Court is yet to pronounce its verdict on the 17 disqualified former legislators who seek directions to overturn the Karnataka assembly speaker's ruling that restricts them from contesting the bypolls.
The bypolls give Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) a chance to pull one--or a few--back from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that allegedly engineered the resignation of the legislators leading to the collapse of the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in June.
The BJP will need at least eight victories in the bypolls to retain its majority in the lower house when all vacancies are filled up.
The party is confident of winning most of the seats but since the SC is yet to clarify if the disqualified former legislators can contest, the latter will continue to face an uncertain future.
The disqualified former legislators are banking on assurances made by the BJP, including promises of landing ministerial berths in the B.S Yeddyurappa cabinet. BJP national president Amit Shah had approved the induction of 17 cabinet ministers in the first round of expansion. It was believed that the BJP had kept adequate number of slots vacant to placate the rebel legislators who had resigned from the Kumaraswamy government and helped the BJP come to power in the state.
Though the Congress and JD(S) are unlikely to continue the coalition in the bypolls, the run up to the elections is likely to see BJP face internal strife as many candidates who came close to defeating the rebels in 2018 will now be forced to work for them or the candidates of their choice.