Bengaluru: Karnataka State Election Commissioner Sanjeev Kumar on Saturday clarified that the 17 disqualified MLAs, who had earlier resigned from the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) leading to the collapse of the coalition government, will not be allowed to contest in the upcoming by-polls as the Speaker's order is in force.
Kumar told reporters here that elections to the 15 of the 17 constituencies will be held on October 21 and the remaining will be conducted later. His statement came after the Election Commission earlier announced that by-polls to 64 Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha constituency spread across 18 states will be held on October 21 and the counting of votes will take place three days later.
“The results of Raja Rajeshwari Nagar and Maski were questioned in court much before the Speaker disqualified their MLAs — Munirathna and Pratap Gowda Patil. Hence, elections won't be conducted in these two constituencies,” said Kumar.
"The Speaker’s order is in force for these elections, so the disqualified MLAs are not allowed to contest the elections. And the Model Code of Conduct is in action in Ranebennur, Kagwad, Hirekerur, Yellapur, Yeshwanthpura, Vijayanagara, Shivajinagara, Hosakote, Hunsur, Krishnarajpet, Mahalakshmi Layout, KR Puram and Chikkaballapur constituencies with immediate effect,” he added.
The absence and resignation of the 17 MLAs during the trust vote had led to the collapse of the HD Kumaraswamy-headed coalition government in July, helping the BJP come to power. The then Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar had disqualified the 17 lawmakers under the anti-defection law, which they have challenged in the Supreme Court.
The top court will take up the plea of the disqualified MLAs on September 23. Some of these disqualified MLAs have alleged in their pleas in the top court that Kumar’s decision, before his resignation as Speaker, was wholly illegal, arbitrary and mala fide exercise of his power under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution. They have also questioned Kumar's decision to reject their resignations by holding that it was not voluntary and genuine.
As per records, there are a total of 37,49,047 voters in the 15 constituencies, Kumar said. Among them, 19,12,084 are men and 18,36,566 are women, with 70,619 being first-time voters.
The EC has appointed 15,782 personnel for the purpose of conducting elections and polling will be held in 4,185 booths.