The long and winding road for the BJP

State BJP president B S Yeddyurappa comes out of his house in Bengaluru on Wednesday. (DH Photo/Janardhan B K)

The BJP, which has succeeded in toppling the Congress-JD(S) coalition, now faces a two-pronged challenge: forming the next government and facing the imminent byelections to as many as 15 Assembly constituencies. 

The BJP, with 105 members, defeated Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s confidence motion, paving the way for the saffron party to look at forming its second independent government in Karnataka. But the road seems twisted, if not long. 

To form the government, the B S Yeddyurappa-led BJP will have to undergo a floor test to prove its majority.

For that, the Congress-JD(S) coalition tally will have to remain restricted with the 15 rebel MLAs and the two Independents abstaining. Once that is done, constituting the Cabinet will be a tight-rope walk, according to a senior BJP leader.

“There are so many to be accommodated,” the leader pointed out, “including those who want to join us from the rebel camp.”

The saffron party will have to do a balancing act keeping caste and regional representation in mind. Sample this: Rebels B C Patil and R Shankar come from Haveri district where the BJP has five of its own MLAs, including veteran C M Udasi and former minister Basavaraj Bommai.  

In Bengaluru, the BJP has 11 MLAs including party loyalists and seniors who may have to be rewarded, such as R Ashoka, S Suresh Kumar, V Somanna, Arvind Limbavali, C N Ashwathnarayan et al.

Plus, it may have to accommodate rebels S T Somashekhar, Munirathna, B A Basavaraj and K Gopalaiah.

In terms of caste, the BJP is widely believed to enjoy the support of the dominant Lingayat community, so those MLAs will have to be given Cabinet positions while also making space for Vokkaligas, the other dominant group. The party also has to deal with five Kurubas — senior leader K S Eshwarappa and rebels Shankar, Basavaraj, M T B Nagaraj and H Vishwanath. 

In the event of the Speaker accepting the resignation of the 15 rebels, or disqualifying them, bypolls will have to be held within six months to those constituencies.

The BJP will have to win at least 8-10 of the bypolls to cross the halfway mark in the 224-member Assembly. 

Also, the party may find itself in a quagmire on the choice of candidates — the rebels or its own. The BJP has strong candidates in Hirekerur, Athani, Maski and Mahalakshmi Layout. The party may have to deal with backlash if it chooses to field the rebels. 

“Winning the bypolls is the real challenge,” BJP general secretary C T Ravi told DH. “And we will have to run the government as if it is a coalition. But as long as you give good governance, disgruntlement will be kept at bay.”

Political analyst Sandeep Shastri said the BJP central leadership may prefer President’s rule followed by fresh elections.

“There is reason to believe that the BJP can come to power in the right royal way. The leadership will be fully aware that they will risk running a government at the hustle of those who brought down the previous one,” he said.

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