Karnataka bypoll / Siddaramaiah resigns as Leader of Opposition in Karnataka Assembly

Hindustan Times : Dec 09, 2019, 05:36 PM

Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah has resigned as the party’s legislature party (CLP) leader in Karnataka in the wake of Congress’ dismal performance in the state bypolls. The BJP gave a stunning performance, winning 12 of the 15 seats on which elections were held last week.

“In a democracy, we have to accept verdict of people. People have spoken and we respect that. We were expecting the disqualified MLAs would be taught a lesson, that has turned out to be false. So I accept the verdict of the people,” he said after the results were declared on Monday.

“I have sent my resignation to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and a copy to AICC in charge K C Venugopal and KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao,” he added.

Minutes later, Gundu Rao also announced his resignation accepting responsibility for the Congress’s poor show in the bypolls.

The BJP had come to power in July this year after 17 Congress and Janata Dal Secular lawmakers were disqualified from the assembly under the anti-defection law, toppling the previous HD Kumaraswamy government.

“Voters have blessed us in 12 of the 15 seats. We have won because of the efforts of party workers and our leaders. I would like to thank our national leaders - Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah,” Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said.

The highlight was the BJP’s win in Krishnarajapete (KR Pete), a rural seat in the Janata Dal Secular’s stronghold of old Mysuru region. BJP candidate Narayana Gowda pulled off an upset victory against JD(S) candidate Devraj in K R Pete. It was one of the few seats - a Vokkaliga stronghold - that the BJP had never won in Karnataka. Vokkaligas have traditionally supported the JD(S); former chief minister HD Kumarawamy is a Vokkaliga.

Accepting defeat, senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar said party has to agree with the mandate of the voters. “We have to agree with the mandate of the voters of these 15 constituencies. People have accepted the defectors. We have accepted defeat, I don’t think we have to be disheartened,” Shivakumar said.

The bypolls were necessitated because of the resignation of 17 legislators from the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance in July. These MLAs had joined the saffron fold and the BJP fielded 16 of them in Thursday’s bypolls.

The bypolls were held on 15 of the 17 vacant seats because pleas challenging the results in two seats in 2018 are being heard by the Karnataka high court.

The BJP needed to win six of the 15 seats on which the elections were held. After the disqualification of the MLAs by the Supreme Court for joining the BJP, the strength of the house was reduced to 208. The halfway mark too was revised to 105 - the number which the BJP had.

After the bypolls, the strength of the state Assembly went up to 224, and the halfway mark revised to 112. Now the party seems to have secured that number.