Bengaluru: Elated by the Supreme Court’s ruling partially in their favour, all the 17 disqualified legislators are joining the ruling BJP on Thursday ahead of the December 5 by-elections, a party official said on Wednesday.
“All the 17 MLAs, including 14 from the Congress and 3 from the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) will join our party on Thursday here and 15 of them will contest in the by-elections on our party symbol,” BJP state unit spokesman G. Madhusudana told IANS.
The apex court earlier in the day upheld their disqualification by former state assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar. However, the 3-judge bench allowed them to contest the by-elections from the assembly segments they resigned in mid-July before they were disqualified and expelled by their parties by July-end for defying their party whip.
They had stayed away from the assembly on July 23 when the former coalition government led by Chief Minister H.D.Kumaraswamy lost the trust-vote in the assembly, leading to the fall of the 14-month-old coalition government the same night (July 23).
“The top court’s ruling came in time for the rebels to file nominations for contesting the by-polls from their assembly seats before the last date of filing papers on November 18,” said Madhusudana.
A 3-judge bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana ruled that the Assembly Speaker was not empowered to disqualify the legislators till the end of the term of the Assembly in 2023.
The rebels who were earlier with the Congress are: Mahesh Kumatahalli, Srimanth B. Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Pratap Gouda Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, B.C. Patil, R. Shankar, Anand Singh, K. Sudhakar, B.A. Basavaraj, S.T. Somashekar, Munirathna, R. Roshan Baig and M.T.B. Nagaraj.
The rebels formerly with the JD-S are A.H. Vishwanath, K.C. Naryana Gowda and K. Gopalaiah.
The by-elections will be held in Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapura, Hirekerur, Ranibennur, Vijaynagara, Chickballapura, K.R. Pura, Yeshwanthpura, Mahalakshmi Layout, Shivajinagara, Hosakote, K.R. Pete and Hunsur.
The vote count is on December 9.
By-polls in Muski (Raichur district) and R.R. Nagar (Bengaluru southwest) have been withheld due to litigation in the Karnataka High Court over their results in the May 2018 assembly elections.
“The disqualified members have expressed interest to join the BJP and have met our senior leaders. They have been welcomed to join us,” added Madhusudana.