Ticket promise for rebels: Savadi at crossroads

DCM Laxman Savadi

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa's promise to field disqualified MLAs in the crucial December 5 bypolls has sparked off speculation on whether or not Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi, who is currently unelected, will contest. 

Since he is neither a member of the Legislative Assembly nor the Council, Savadi will have to join either of the Houses before January third week to continue in the office. 

Savadi lost the 2018 Assembly polls to Congress' Mahesh Kumathalli (now rebel) from Athani. Now, going by Yediyurappa's statement, the BJP could field Kumathalli from Athani for the bypoll and Savadi will have to become an MLC. 

But Savadi, who was inducted into the Cabinet and elevated as Yediyurappa's deputy amid opposition from within the party, has maintained that the party high command will take a call on the tickets for the bypolls, indicating that the state leadership may have little say in the matter.

According to data from Karnataka Legislative Council secretariat, seven MLC positions will become vacant in June 2020, much beyond the six month limit for Savadi. The tenure of Jayamma, N S Bose Raju, H M Revanna, T A Sharavana, D U Mallikarjuna, Naseer Ahmed and M C Venugopal will end providing an opening for Savadi. That apart, the tenure of five nominated members, two MLCs from graduates' constituencies and two from teachers' constituencies, will also end next June.  

Sources said that Kumatahalli might have to be offered an MLC berth to lure him away from the BJP ticket from Athani. "Since Savadi has to continue in the Cabinet, it is likely that Kumatahalli will be made MLC," the sources said. Since Savadi and Kumatahalli are not in the best of terms, fielding the latter may antagonise Savadi.

Speaking to DH, BJP general secretary N Ravikumar said the party will strategise to ensure Savadi's continuation in the Cabinet. "We still have time," he said.

When contacted, Savadi told DH that nothing has been discussed as yet on bypoll tickets. "All this will be discussed only after the Supreme Court decides on the petition of the disqualified MLAs," he said.  

There is speculation that an incumbent party MLC may be asked to resign to accommodate either Savadi or Kumathalli. 

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