Karnataka legislative council polls end, BJP warns dissidents

"Around 98 percent of the 93,673 members of local bodies voted," a state election commission official said in Bangalore.  Vote count is on Dec 21.

The local authorities are the gram, taluk and zilla panchayats, town municipal councils and city corporations. The members of these authorities and state legislators and parliament members formed the electoral college to choose the 23 members to the 75-member council.

Senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu, a member of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka and hence a voter in the polls, said after casting his ballot here that dissidence and indiscipline in the party would not be tolerated.

His warning followed reports that a group of up to 20 legislators, some of whom are ministers, were in talks with Congress and JD-S to bring down the BJP's first ministry in the state headed by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.

"Those dissatisfied with the party were free to leave it. The party will not tolerate indiscipline and dissident activity," Naidu told reporters here.

Naidu's threat to party dissidents came as Congress and JDS leaders predicted an early fall of the Yeddyurappa ministry.

Congress leader and former Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh, now a member of Lok Sabha, told reporters in his hometown Gulbarga, about 600 km from here, that fall of Yeddyurappa ministry was imminent because of growing dissidence in BJP.

JD-S chief and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, said in his hometown Hassan, around 180 km from here, that BJP government in Karnataka should go in the interest of the state and he would back Congress forming an alternative government.

But Naidu and Yeddyurappa dismissed the talk of dissident activity ending the party's rule in the state. Naidu ridiculed the Congress-JDS tie up for the legislative council polls. "This opportunistic alliance will not affect us and we will win majority of the seats," he asserted.

Yeddyurappa, who is in New Delhi, to attend party meetings, told reporters that opposition parties in the state were "day dreaming that his government would fall".

Winning majority of the seats that went to polls on Friday is crucial for BJP as it does not have majority in the council. The party and the Congress have bagged one each already as their candidates were elected unopposed.

Of the 75 members in the council, 25 are elected by members of the assembly, 25 by local authorities and seven each by graduates and teachers. The remaining 11 are nominated. Elections are held biennially as under statutory provisions, one third of the members retire every two years.

Congress held 19 of these 25 seats and is contesting all of them. BJP held four, JD-S one and one seat was vacant.

The Congress has fielded candidates for the 19 seats while the JD-S is contesting eight seats with a "friendly fight" between the two parties for two seats.

At present, the Congress and the BJP have 28 seats each and the JD-S 12.  Of the remaining seven, one is chairman of the council, Janata Dal-United has one and Independents three. Two seats from the legislative assembly quota are vacant.


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