Karnataka bypolls: Voters choose triumph for defectors
Party turncoats had a field day in the Karnataka Assembly by-elections to 15 segments as 11 of a total of 13 of them in the fray after joining the BJP emerged victorious.
And now, ministerial berths also await them. Only H Vishwanath (Hunsur) and MTB Nagaraj (Hoskote) lost as the BJP's gamble to field the defectors from the Congress and the JD(S) who helped them come to power paid off.
Ten were in the Congress previously and three in the JD(S) headed by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda.
After they switched sides and joined the BJP, the party fielded them in the constituencies that they had represented in their previous party.
The 11 winners are: Mahesh Kumatalli (Athani), Srimant Patil (Kagwad), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), A Shivaram Hebbar (Yellapur), BC Patil (Hirekerur), Anand Singh (Vijayanagara), Dr K Sudhakar (Chikkaballapura), Byrathi Basavaraj (KR Pura), K Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout), Narayana Gowda (KR Pet) and ST Somashekhar (Yashwanthapura).
The BJP's decision to field Arun Kumar Guththur in Ranebennur in place of disqualified MLA R Shankar, who had also joined the BJP, proved correct as he defeated the Congress candidate and former speaker KB Koliwad.
Upbeat over the victory of a majority of turncoats, Hirekerur winning candidate BC Patil said, "They (Congress) had declared us disqualified based on the Supreme Court verdict but the voters made us qualified again."
BJP state chief Nalin Kumar Kateel too expressed similar views.
"Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy had created a narrative of 'disqualified MLAs' to discredit our candidates but today the Congress and the JD(S) have been disqualified in the people's court which has given the verdict of 'qualified' to our candidates," Kateel said.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said: "We had given assurance to all the disqualified MLAs that they will be made ministers. So, there is no question of backtracking from what we promised them. We will make them ministers and give them responsibility to grow our party base in their area."
The ruling BJP swept the by-elections winning 12 of the total 15 seats, helping the four-month-old BS Yediyurappa government to retain majority in the Assembly.