Saturday 20 April 2013

It's by-poll merry-go-round

Bangalore, April 20 (IANS) Karnataka, which has earned the rather dubious distinction of witnessing around 20 assembly by-polls in the five years the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been in power, could possibly see by-elections for at least three Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha seats in the near future.
The assembly by-polls were mostly caused by Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) legislators quitting the assembly and their parties to join the ruling party.
Now, two JD-S Lok Sabha members, one of the BJP, as also a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha, are contesting the May 5 assembly poll.
Their victory would mean four by-polls, the three for the Lok Sabha at a time when the house has less than a year for completing its present term.
All four MPs are contesting from the areas considered their strongholds and their victory prospects are bright.
Of the four, JD-S state unit president and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is set to take the cake for causing two by-polls in four years, one for the assembly and one for the Lok Sabha, if he wins the May 5 election.
He won the Ramanagaram seat in 2008, but quit the assembly to contest the 2009 Lok Sabha poll from the eponymous parliamentary constituency.
The other JD-S Lok Sabha member in the fray is N. Cheluvaraya Swamy from the Mandya constituency, about 80 km from Bangalore. He is contesting for the Nagamangala assembly seat.
The BJP Lok Sabha member in the fray for the assembly poll is P.C. Mohan. He won the 2009 Lok Sabha poll from the Bangalore Central constituency and is seeking to enter the assembly from Gandhinagar in the heart of Bangalore.
The Congress has fielded mining baron and Rajya Sabha member Anil Lad from the iron-ore rich Bellary district in north Karnataka. He is contesting for the Bellary city seat.
While all parties are responsible for causing by-polls because of the switch from the assembly to parliament or vice versa, the BJP will have to live with the dubious distinction of setting a record in the state by inflicting the most after capturing power in a southern state for the first time.
The Congress necessitated one assembly by-poll when it forced a reluctant Mallikharjun Kharge to give up the Chitapur assembly seat from north Karnataka's Gulbarga district he had won in the 2008 election to contest for the  Lok Sabha in 2009.
He won from Gulbarga and is now the central labour and employment minister.
The BJP, which beat the anti-defection law hollow by inducing Congress and JD-S assembly members to quit the house and their parties and contest the subsequent by-polls as its nominees, also caused one Lok Sabha by-poll.
With the BJP's first chief minister in the state, B. S. Yeddyurappa, forced to quit the post over mining bribery charges in July 2011, it made Lok Sabha member D.V. Sadanadnda Gowda the chief minister, forcing a by-poll for the Udupi-Chikmagalur seat.
In the by-poll, the BJP was defeated by Jayaprakash Hegde of  the Congress and after being chief minister for less than a year, Gowda also lost the post following a rebellion by Yeddyurappa, who subsequently left the BJP and now heads the Karnataka Janata Party.
Gowda became a legislative council member in a by-poll.
If the Karnataka electorate does not give a clear majority to any party in the May 5 assembly poll, the state may only see more by-polls, making a mockery of not only the anti-defection law but of the election process as such.

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