Bengaluru, December 4: The high-stake bypolls in Karnataka will be held tomorrow, with a total of 15 assembly segments set to be contested. The electoral battle is key to determine the fate of BS Yediyurappa-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state. A rout for the saffron camp in the bypolls would turn the state ruling dispensation into a minority government -- necessitating a fresh floor test. Karnataka Bypolls 2019: Section 144 From December 3-6, Announces Bengaluru Police.
The 15 seats where bypolls will be held are: Ranebennur, Vijayanagar, Chikkaballapur, K R Pura, Yeshwanthpur, Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapur, Hirekerur, Mahalakshmi Layout, Shivaji Nagar, Hoskote, K R Pet and Hunsur. Results would be declared by the Election Commission on December 9.
None of the seats were won by the BJP in the last assembly polls. By-elections in these constituencies were necessitated due to the disqualification of incumbent Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) legislators. The rebel MLAs were stripped of their assembly membership after they defected to the BJP.
From these 15 seats, the BJP had repeated the candidature of 13 rebel MLAs whereas two among them were dropped. The two disqualified legislators who have not been issued the tickets - Bachegowda and Kaviraj Urs - are contesting as independents.
The Congress, which has led a high-octane campaign in these seats under the leadership of former CM Siddaramaiah, is contesting on all 15 constituencies. The JD(S), which did not enter into a pre-poll arrangement with the Congress, fielded candidates in 12 seats. Reports, however, claimed that the two parties have reached an understanding in some of the seats.
Fate of BS Yediyurappa-Led BJP Govt Hangs in Balance
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa holds a slim majority in the House, as the BJP 105 MLAs in assembly which currently has 208 members. After the bypolls, the legislature's strength would increase to 223, making 112 the new majority-mark. For the BJP to enjoy single-party majority status, it would have to win at least 7 out of the 15 constituencies going to polls.
In worst case scenario, the BJP needs to win 5 seats to continue to remain in power as it has the support of two independent legislators. The loyalties of the independents, however, may not remain intact throughout the assembly's tenure.
The Congress and JD(S), despite trading heated barbs after they lost power owing to defections in July this year, have hinted at joining hands if the BJP gets defeated in the by-elections. The backchannel talks, as cited in local media reports, gained traction between the two sides following the setback faced by the BJP in Maharashtra where the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP coalition has come to power.