Bengaluru: The Supreme Court is yet to rule on their disqualification, but Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has already set out to campaign for the rebel MLAs who helped bring down the state’s Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress government.
It was the resignation of 17 MLAs of the erstwhile JD(S)-Congress alliance that paved the way for the BJP to return to power in the state.
The MLAs were subsequently disqualified by former speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar, which means they are barred from contesting elections until the current assembly completes its term, but the former legislators have challenged the decision in the Supreme Court.
The court is yet to give its verdict. In the meantime, 15 of the constituencies are scheduled to hold bypolls on 5 December.
For the BJP, it is important to win at least six of the seats to keep its government stable. Keen to field the rebels as BJP candidates, Yediyurappa is thus going all out to put their potential bids on a solid footing.
He has been sanctioning grants to the constituencies of the rebels and clearing files on development work there. On trips to the constituencies, he extols their virtues.
On a visit Monday to Hoskote, the seat of Congress rebel M.T.B. Nagaraju, to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for a cluster of irrigation projects worth Rs 100 crore, Yediyurappa requested residents to re-elect the former MLA.
“I am ready to give clearance to any demands made by Nagaraju,” Yeddyurappa, also known as BSY, said.
“It is up to you to get an honest leader like Nagaraju re-elected. Please vote for him, that is my request,” he added. “Let him stand from any party, but he should be your choice.”
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Eyes on the Vokkaligas
On Friday, Yediyurappa is all set to travel to Chikkaballapur, the constituency of former Congress member K. Sudhakar, another of the rebels, to lay the foundation stone for a medical college which is expected to cost Rs 325 crore. The state cabinet, it is learnt, has already sanctioned Rs 150 crore of this sum.
In choosing Chikkaballapur as the site of the college, Yediyurappa also settled a longstanding dispute between Sudhakar and senior Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar, who wanted it set up in his constituency, Kanakapura.
Yediyurappa has also been liberally releasing grants to the Hunsur constituency of disqualified JD(S) MLA and former party president A.H. Vishwanath.
The Vokkaligas have a dominant presence in Hunsur and the community has always backed the JD(S), led by community member Deve Gowda, in elections.
A major step towards wooing the community was releasing Rs 154 crore to develop 50 Vokkaliga-dominated villages in Hunsur.
Vishwanath is learnt to have briefed Yediyurappa that in order for him to win, he will have to release adequate funds for development work, including roads, sanitation and housing.
The state government then released Rs 35 crore for development work in Hunsur, in addition to the Rs 115 crore released by the previous Kumaraswamy government.
An official working in the Yediyurappa administration confirmed that the cabinet has cleared an additional Rs 125 crore for development work, such as drip irrigation, lake rejuvenation and development in Hirekerur, the constituency of disqualified Congress legislator B.C. Patil.
Another Rs 40 crore, the official added, is to be released to the Vijayanagara constituency in Ballari, from where rebel MLA Anand Singh was elected.
‘Issue of propriety’
Political analyst Sandeep Shastri said the involvement of disqualified MLAs in the government’s decisions raised propriety issues.
“While one might argue that it is the government’s right to spend money, involving those who are technically not legislators and are disqualified MLAs, and making them part of the government’s functioning, is a big challenge,” he added. “I am raising the issue of propriety here.”
Political analyst professor Chambi Puranik said it was a desperate bid to appease voters as well as placate the rebel MLAs who made a sacrifice for him.
“It can be seen as a desperate act to win the bypolls and also keep the rebels in good humour as they have been quite upset with the delay in the SC ruling,” he added. “The rebel MLAs have made a sacrifice and he is in power because of them. So it is a sort of quid pro quo.”
However, a source in the BJP said it was not so much appeasement politics as a bid by Yediyurappa to consolidate his position in the state.
“One of the reasons why these MLA rebelled was because the Congress-JD(S) government totally neglected these constituencies,” the source added.
“They did not release money and these constituencies were starved for funds even when Siddaramaiah was the CM. So, in order to correct this imbalance, Yediyurappa has decided to release funds,” the source said.
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The BJP may try many tricks to win the bypolls but the people of Karnataka are smart enough. I am sure the defectors will be taught a lesson and their career will come to an end next month.
Print writes flies instead of files, amusing
How I wish that we have more ‘rebels’ and more ‘CMs’ who can bring about development to each of our Assembly constituencies. What a novel way of getting development done! I don’t understand why our development economists did not think of all this for so many decades. This is the New India that I have been waiting for. Wishing all concerned all the luck. And hoping that ‘We the People’ see through these games of self-proclaimed leaders who care only for themselves but pretend to care for us. God save us from such hypocrites !
World moves on self and group interest. That’s why invoking patriotism is the last refuze of a scoundrel.
Indeed,. We do need to save ourselves from the ‘scoundrels’, that is for our self-preservation. Else, we are going downhill in a car with no brakes – in the name of past glory, nationalism, patriotism and what not. Is it not? Scoundrel by any name and in any garb is a scoundrel!
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