BJP to expel rebel MLA contesting bypoll as independent

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Cracking down on rebellion over ticket distribution for coming by-polls, the ruling BJP in Karnataka has decided to expel rebel Sharath Bachegowda who has jumped into the fray as an independent in Hoskote.

Announcing this, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Monday also indicated action against Sharath Bachegowda's father and BJP MP from Chikkaballapura BN Bachegowda, who has been keeping away from the campaign for the December 5 polls for 15 assembly constituencies.

"It has already been decided (on expelling Sharath), there is no question of him remaining in the party," he said.

Yediyurappa said disqualified Congress MLA MTB Nagaraj, who has joined BJP, had been given the ticket for Hoskote only after taking Sharath and his father into confidence.

Speaking to reporters in Hoskote after campaigning for Nagaraj, he hinted at action against Sharath's father B N Bachegowda also.

"We will bring to the notice of the central leadership the political developments here," he said adding a watch was being kept on the MP's activities.

Sharath has filed his nomination as an independent candidate after the party denied him a ticket and fielded Nagaraj.

JD(S) has decided to support Sharath, who lost to Nagaraj in 2018 assembly elections, and said it would not field its candidate in Hoskote. The strong reaction against Sharath came as it became clear he would not withdraw and his father keeping away from campaigning for BJP's official nominee despite being a party MP.

The chief minister said he had spoken to the two before giving the ticket to Nagaraj and accused them of "betrayal." "People should teach a lesson to those who betray. At least now the Member of Parliament should advise his son and ask him to withdraw," Yediyurappa said.

Sharath, who is also secretary of BJP Yuva Morcha, had earlier been appointed Chairman of Karnataka Housing Board by the Chief Minister in an attempt to pacify him.

Calling Nagraj an "honest politician," Yediyurappa said he came out of "the corrupt coalition government" despite being a Minister with a good portfolio.

"I'm confident that Nagaraj will win with a margin of over 25,000 votes and people will teach a lesson to those indulging in anti-party activities, there is no question of taking them into the party," he added.

Nagaraj along with 15 other disqualified MLAs of Congress and JDS had joined the BJP on November 14, a day after the Supreme Court paved the way for them to contest the by-polls. Their rebellion was instrumental in the downfall of H D Kumaraswamy led the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in July.

BJP has given tickets to 13 of them for the bypolls in their respective seats, which has triggered disgruntlement in some constituencies, including Hoskote. In Kagwad, former MLA Raju Kage has quit the BJP and has been fielded by the Congress. 

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