Last year on July 29, then Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar had disqualified them from the Assembly under the anti-defection law.
As many as 16 rebel MLAs from Karnataka Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday, a day after the Supreme Court upheld their disqualification but allowed them to contest elections. The apex court decision had paved the way for them to contest December 5 bypolls in the state.
Welcoming them to the party fold, Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa handed the party flag to them. It is likely that the BJP may field many of them in the upcoming bypolls.
Former Congress MLA Ramesh Jharkiholi, who was dubbed as the leader of disqualified MLAs, had said that all 17 of them would join the BJP at the party headquarters in Bengaluru on Thursday.
Among those who joined the party are Ramesh Jarkiholi, H Vishwanath, Mahesh Kumathahalli, Shrimant Patil, Pratapgouda Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, B C Patil, Anand Singh, K Sudhakar, Byrathi Basavaraj, S T Somasekhar, N Munirathna, K Gopalaiah, K C Narayana Gowda, R Shankar, TB Nagaraj (absent).
Last year on July 29, then Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar had disqualified them from the Assembly under the anti-defection law which had ended speculations of them joining the saffron party. The disqualified MLAs then knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court to hear their case.
Then chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, who was heading the JD(S)-Congress coalition government, had to resign after the he fell short of the numbers owing to the abstention of the rebel MLAs. BJP, the single largest party, then went on to form the government under BS Yedyurappa and also won the trust vote.
Reacting to the SC judgement on Wednesday, former prime minister and JD(S) chief HD Devegowda had said that, the present BJP government is now safe and would last full five terms after the SC gave them order to contest polls, Indian Express reported.
“There is no question of either giving any berth in the cabinet or offering any cabinet member or board chairman post to them (17 disqualified MLAs), for all those who went to Bombay and came back to Bengaluru. Even though they have been permitted to contest elections, they have no scope of getting anything further,” he was quoted by the paper as saying.
He further added, “Yediyurappa is now safe. Without much botheration, he can run the government (with majority).”
After the BJP core committee meeting on Wednesday, Yediyurappa had said, “All JD(S) and Congress MLA, who wanted to join the Bharatiya Janata Party, will be received by our state president (Nalinkumar Kateel). He will give them party membership.”
Hitting out at the BJP, state Congress asked it not to take these 17 MLAs into the party fold if it had any morality left. On October 31, the Congress released its first list of eight candidates for the next month’s byelections to 15 Karnataka assembly constituencies.