BJP picks 13 ‘defectors’ to contest Karnataka bypolls

Bengaluru: The BJP has named 13 of the 16 defected former Congress and JD-S legislators as candidates for the 15 Assembly by-elections to be held across Karnataka on December 5, hours after they joined the ruling party here, a party official said on Thursday.

“Of the 17 disqualified rebel MLAs, 16 joined our party earlier in the day barring Roshan Baig. The B-form has been given to 13 of them and to our former city corporator M. Sharavana to contest the by-elections to fill the vacancies caused by their resignations in mid-July,” BJP’s Karnataka unit spokesman G. Madhusudan told IANS.

Sharavana will contest from the high-profile Shivajinagar Assembly constituency in central Bengaluru as the BJP did not allow seven-time former Congress lawmaker Roshan Baig to join the party along with 16 others.

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“Of the 13 named, 10 belonged to the Congress and 3 to the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S). The party’s candidate for the 15th Assembly segment (Ranebennur) will be finalised soon although R. Shankar, who resigned as an Independent in July and joined the party, has not been given the ticket,” the official said.

The candidates and the Assembly seats they will contest are: Mahesh Kumathalli (Athani), Srimantha Gouda Patil (Kagwad), Ramesh Jarikholi (Gokak), Shivram Hebbar (Yellapur), Anand Singh (Vijayanagara), K. Sudhakar (Chikkaballapur), Bharathi Basavaraj (K.R. Pura), S.T. Somashekar (Yeshvanthapura) and M.T.B Nagaraj (Hoskote) –all ex-Congress MLAs — and K. Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout), K.C. Narayana Gowda (Krishnarajpet) and A.H. Vishwanath (Hunsur) — all ex-JD-S MLAs.

Though two more Assembly segments — Maski in the state’s northwest Raichur district and Mahalakshmi — are also vacant, by-elections to them have been withheld due to litigation in the Karnataka High Court over their results in the May 2018 Assembly pools.

The counting of votes will take place on December 9.

With 104 legislators, excluding the Speaker, the ruling party has to win at least 9-10 seats to have a simple majority in the 225-member Assembly with 113 as the halfway mark, and save its government.

The opposition Congress on October 31 announced the names of 8 candidates and is yet to name candidates for the remaining seats.

The JD-S, which is also in the fray, has announced the names for 10 seats so far.

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