SC’s Rebel MLAs Verdict Means Trouble & Not Relief for K’taka BJP

Among the three political parties in Karnataka, the BJP is the most concerned about the rebels.

Updated14 Nov 2019, 04:24 AM IST
India
3 min read

Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma

After more than 100 days, uncertainty and suspense over the fate of the disqualified Karnataka MLAs, who caused the collapse of the coalition government led by HD Kumaraswamy, finally come to an end.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 13 November, allowed these rebel MLAs to contest the by-elections.

Hours after the SC’s decision, the BJP announced that these disqualified (14 Congress and 3 JDS) MLAs will join the party on Thursday.

So what are the political implications of this SC judgment and the BJP’s decision to induct the MLAs?

Among the three political parties in Karnataka, the BJP is the most concerned about the rebels. And there are four main reasons for that.

1. The Numbers Game

Firstly, the BJP has to win at least seven out of the 15 seats going to polls on 5 December in order to retain power. At present, the party is running the government with 106 MLAs in its camp. This is because the total strength of the Karnataka Assembly was brought down from 225 to 207 following the resignations of the 17 rebel MLAs.

But at the end of the by-election, the BJP will need to take its tally to 113, to remain in power.

2. Poor Track Record of Turncoats

The need to win seats leads to the second problem for the BJP – the ability of these disqualified MLAs to win.

In this context, the recent Haryana Assembly election becomes important.

In this northern state, out of the 11 sitting MLAs who defected to the BJP, only one managed to secure victory in the Assembly polls. Since the BJP’s future in Karnataka is dependent of these 17 turncoats, the trend in Haryana becomes a matter of concern for the saffron party.

3. Local Issues vs the Modi Wave

File photo of Prime Minister  Narendra Modi.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
(Photo: PTI)

Apart from the Haryana experience, the BJP has another reason to be concerned about the rebels’ ability to win polls. The party swept the general election in Karnataka riding on the Modi wave. But the by-elections will be fought on local issues.

Talking of local issues, seven out of the 15 by-polls will be held in north Karnataka, which saw severe floods recently.

At the peak of the floods, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa was running a one-man government, since the BJP high command had not given him the green signal to form a Cabinet.

The inefficiency in dealing with the flood situation has led to anti-incumbency against the BJP in this region.

4. Who Gets Ministers’ Chair?

If the BJP manages to retain power following the by-polls, it will have to encounter another problem. The party will have to accommodate the disqualified MLAs in the Cabinet.

According to sources, the BJP has promised to make at least 10 of the rebel MLAs Cabinet ministers.

But there are only 34 Cabinet posts in Karnataka. According to an internal report of the BJP, there are 56 leaders in the state, who have won more than three election and deserve to be ministers. This would mean that only 24 posts will be left for these 56 BJP leaders who have worked hard for the party.

This raises the fear of disgruntled BJP senior leaders leaving the party, a fate similar to that of the Congress-JD(S) government.

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Published: 13 Nov 2019, 02:01 PM IST
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