Blow to rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs in K'taka after EC move

New Delhi, Sep 21 In a major blow to the rebel Congress and Janata Dal-Secular MLAs who were disqualified as legisltors, the Election Commission on Saturday announced by-elections in Karnataka on October 21.

The by-elections are crucial for the survival of the newly formed B.S. Yediyurappa-led BJP government which needs to win at least six assembly seats to stay in power.

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The EC announced the polling dates for 15 assembly seats on October 21. The counting of the votes will take place on October 24. The last date for completing the elections is October 27. The last date for filing nominations for the by-elections is September 30.

The by-elections for 15 seats was neccessiated after 15 rebel MLAs of the ruling Congress and the JD-S government switched their loyalty to the saffron party.

The 14-month-old Congress-JD-S government led by H.D. Kumaraswamy collapased after the 15 MLAs resigned as legislators in late July this year.

Significantly, the announcement of the schedule of the by-elections means that the disqualified MLAs will not be able to contest.

In a dramatic turn of events, former Karnataka Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified as many as 17 rebel MLAs till the end of the current Assembly term running from 2018 to 2023, a day before the trust vote in the Karnataka Assembly.

The constituencies going to the polls include -- Gokak, Athani, Ranebennur, Kagwad, Hirekerur, Yellapur, Yeshwanthpura, Vijayanagara, Shivajinagar, Hosakote, Hunsur, Krishnarajpet, Mahalakshmi Layout, KR Pura and Chikballapura.

However, the poll panel did not announce the schedule for the R.R. Nagar and Maski assembly constituency.

Following their disqualifiaction, the rebel MLAs had approached the Supreme Court to quash their disqualification. However, Justice M.M. Shantanagoudar recused himself earlier this week citing he is from Karnataka and that his conscience does not permit him to hear the case.

After the counting for the 15 assembly constituencies, the strength of the Karnataka Assembly will be 222. The ruling BJP currently has the support of 106 MLAs, including independent MLA H. Nagesh.