Cong ready to face Dec 5 bypolls: Siddaramaiah

Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday said the Congress was prepared to face the bypolls to 15 assembly constituencies in Karnataka if elections happen as per schedule on December 5.

Amid speculation that state Congress president may be changed, the Congress legislature party leader said there was no such proposal as per his knowledge. According to him, the party is ready for the bypolls and the candidate selection is in the final stage.

"If elections are held on December 5, we are prepared," Siddaramaiah asserted.

Speaking to reporters at Hubballi, he said the candidates would be announced after seeing what the Supreme Court decides on the question of disqualified MLAs.

Asked if bypolls will decide the BJP government's future in the state and will there be mid-term polls, Siddaramaiah said "it all depends on what the Supreme Court decides regarding the disqualified MLAs; let's see what court decides."

Bypolls to 15 of 17 seats represented by disqualified Congress JD(S) MLAs, whose resignation and absence from trust vote led to the fall of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government and made way for the BJP to come to power, will be held on December 5.

The then Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar had disqualified them as MLAs, ruling that those disqualified cease to be MLAs with immediate effect till the expiry of the 15th assembly (in 2023), which they have challenged in the Supreme Court.

Yediyurappa had recently said disqualified Congress-JDS MLAs would be given BJP tickets for the bypolls, if they wanted.

The BJP needs to win at least six seats in the bypolls for 15 constituencies to remain in a majority in the assembly, which will still have two vacant seats (Maski and R R Nagar).

To a question about change of KPCC president and senior party leader D K Shivakumar, who on Saturday returned to the city after being released on bail from a Delhi jail in a money laundering case, will be appointed to the post, Siddaramaiah termed it as media speculation. "Such decisions are taken by the party high command.. according to my information there was no proposal to change KPCC president," he said.

Hitting out at the Yediyurappa-led BJP government in the state over failure in providing proper relief to those hit by floods, Siddaramaiah alleged that many were yet to receive even the Rs 10,000 that the government was claiming it has provided to all those affected as immediate relief. "People are waiting to teach a lesson to the BJP government," he claimed.

Rejecting reports that he had spoken "disrespectfully" of Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, Siddaramaiah said he had only said the speaker did not give him as leader of opposition enough opportunity to speak in the assembly. "He (Speaker) did not hold the session for more days I had said. Is it wrong?" the Congress leader asked. Slamming Siddaramaiah for his alleged disrespectful comments against the speaker, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa earlier in the day had urged him to apologise to the people of the state and even spoke about the need to move a privilege motion against him in the assembly.

Reacting to the chief minister's comments, Siddaramaaih said "Without committing any mistake why should I apologise? Let them move (privilege motion), when moved we will face it in the assembly...I need not learn from Yediyurappa. I know how to respect whom. I have been in active politics for 40 years. I know how to respect the speaker."

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