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4-min read

HDK Questions Need of Anti-Defection Law as SC Lets Disqualified MLAs Contest Polls on BJP Ticket

Hours after the SC verdict, some disqualified MLAs along with Karnataka Deputy CM Ashwath Narayan met BL Santosh, BJP national general secretary (organisation), in New Delhi.

Stacy Pereira | CNN-News18

Updated:November 13, 2019, 11:25 PM IST
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Bengaluru: With the apex court granting them permission to contest the upcoming by-elections in Karnataka, 17 disqualified MLAs from the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) will formally join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday.

Deputy Chief Minister Ashwath Narayan told reporters the disqualified MLAs would be taken into the party fold on Thursday at 10:30 am at the party headquarters in Bengaluru in the presence of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel.

This also paves the way for the 17 MLAs — 14 from the Congress and three from the JD(S) — to contest the December 5 bypolls on a BJP ticket. Some disqualified MLAs along with Narayan met BL Santosh, BJP national general secretary (organisation), in New Delhi hours after the verdict.

Narayan said party leaders and the disqualified legislators will meet Yediyurappa and Kateel on Thursday and decide on the future course of action. "There is no trouble or anything, they want to join the party and will be joining...bypolls and other things will come later," he said.

The state BJP's core committee met here and discussed about the candidates for the bypolls but did not take any decision. Speaking after the meeting, Yediyurappa said the disqualified MLAs would be given the membership as they expressed their intention for the same.

The Supreme Court has struck down the portion of the order of then speaker by which the legislators were disqualified till the end of the 15th Karnataka Assembly in 2023.

Asked if they have been promised ticket for bypolls, Narayan said they are joining with joy and full faith. "They are joining the party keeping good faith, when they don't have doubts, why you (media) have," he added.

Karnataka BJP General Secretary Arvind Limbavali said the core committee discussed about the candidates for the bypolls but no decision has been taken. A final call on it is likely by Thursday evening.

BJP sources said it is no secret that the disqualified MLAs (most of them, at least) would be given the tickets to contest the polls. Yediyurappa too had recently spoken about the plans to give tickets to them, if they intend to contest as BJP candidates.

Hours after the SC verdict, JD(S) leader HD Kumarswamy questioned the need for having an anti-defection law at all in the country. The resignations of these legislators had led to the fall of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in the state, led by Kumaraswamy.

“I won't whole-heartedly welcome today's verdict, because in present-day politics… even though our predecessors had brought the bill of defection law, what is its use? I request all constitutional institutions to think the way they are misusing the defection law, how our present-day representatives are hastily taking decisions for their selfish gains. At this juncture, it is our responsibility to see where we have erred and set it right," he told reporters moments after the Supreme Court pronounced its order in the matter.

"What is the use of this defection bill, if they can take their decisions according to their (rebel MLAs) wish? What is the need for the bill? It’s better you remove all disqualification issues," he added.

The rebel MLAs had submitted their resignations to the then speaker KR Ramesh Kumar in June, but were disqualified instead by him for anti-party activities under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution. The lawmakers then challenged this disqualification in the apex court.

While upholding the disqualification, the Supreme Court said, “The Speaker didn't have the power to bar the MLAs for any term.”

The Congress has said it welcomed the verdict as it voters would now decide the fate of the lawmakers. However, Kumar said though he is happy that the disqualification order passed by him has been upheld, the fact that the MLAs have not been penalised was unfortunate.

“Resignation is an honorable term, but disqualification is an admonition or punishment to a person who has violated the provisions of law. If the disqualification is accepted, you have accepted that they have committed a mistake,” the former speaker is said to have told a party colleague.

Kumaraswamy said, "On one side, a governor acts as a representative of the BJP’s central government and recommends President's Rule (in Maharashtra) with a message that horse-trading will take place there. But what has happened here (Karnataka) in the last 14 months? The same governor who has a responsibility of his own, he's taking another decision. We can see the dual role of BJP’s friends and governors. Decisions are taken on the basis of whatever helps the BJP leadership. There is no question of democracy, no rules.”

However, the JD(S) does not plan to appeal against the SC order, but will be fielding candidates in all 15 constituencies where by-polls will be held. In two constituencies, by-elections are yet to be announced as there are other cases pending in the Karnataka High court.

JD(S) patriarch and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda said, “Yediyurappa and Siddaramaiah (Congress leader) were "safe" for the remaining three-and-a-half years as chief minister and leader of opposition, respectively", during which he would strengthen his party.

(With inputs from PTI)

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| Edited by: Sohini Goswami
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