The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the decision of former Karnataka assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar to disqualify 17 rebel Congress-Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), legislators. The apex court, however, rejected Kumar’s decision to disallow the lawmakers from contesting polls.
Seventeen rebel Congress- JD(S) legislators had moved the apex court challenging their disqualification by the then assembly speaker in July.
The legislators had resigned amid growing dissent, toppling the previous Congress-JD(S) rule in July. After days of uncertainty, Kumar not only accepted the resignations but disqualified them, ruling that they cannot return to contest the bypolls. This was challenged by the rebels in the apex court.
The court’s decision came ahead of the bypolls scheduled to be held in 15 assembly seats in Karnataka on 5 December. The Election Commission (EC), in September, had deferred the bypolls until the SC decided the fate of the 17 disqualified legislators. The bypolls were earlier to be held on 21 October.
The nomination process for the bypolls in 15 of the total 17 vacant constituencies of Karnataka commenced on Monday. The three main political parties--Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and JD(S)--are yet to finalise their candidates for an election that will determine the future of the three-month old B.S.Yediyurappa-led BJP government in the state.
The Congress and the JD(S) have been embroiled in their own internal battles and problems affecting probably its biggest opportunity to bring down the BJP that came to power after it allegedly capitalised on simmering dissent in the opposition ranks and engineered defections that led to the collapse of the 14-month old H.D.Kumaraswamy-led coalition government.
Yediyurappa became the biggest beneficiary of the coalition’s collapse and has the most to lose if he cannot contain the growing voices of dissent within his own party and secure at least eight victories out of the total 15 to continue in power.