With the Election Commission announcing the enforcement of the model code of conduct from November 11 (Monday), in 15 Karnataka Legislative Assembly constituencies where by-elections are scheduled for December 5, all eyes are now on the Supreme Court which is expected to pronounce its verdict on petitions of 17 disqualified MLAs of the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) on November 13 (Wednesday).
Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar told presspersons that the code of conduct would come into effect from Monday only in constituencies where elections were scheduled and not in the entire district.
The process for filing of nominations will commence from Monday and the last day for filing nominations is November 18.
Earlier, the EC had postponed the bypolls, which were scheduled on October 21, to December 5 in view of the pendency of the petitions filed by the disqualified legislators. Before the postponement of elections, 29 nominations have been received. All their nominations remained valid, Mr. Kumar said.
Though the electoral notification was issued by the EC on September 27, the enforcement of the model code of conduct was suspended till November 10 since it would adversely impact the development programs of the government, particularly for the poor, the CEO said.
The Congress has strongly taken objection to the suspension of the code of conduct after the issue of electoral notification on September 27. The party has also decided to oppose the plea made before the court by disqualified legislators seeking postponement of the Assembly bypolls.
Elections to two of the 17 constituencies — Maski in Raichur district and R.R. Nagar in Bengaluru — have been withheld as separate election cases related to them are pending in the Karnataka High Court.
The constituencies going to polls are: Athani, Kagwad, Gokak (all Belagavi), Yellapur (Uttara Karnataka), Hirekerur, Ranibennur (both Haveri), Vijayanagara (Ballari), Chikballapur, KR Pura, Yeshwanthpura, Mahalakshmi Layout, Shivajinagar (all in Bengaluru), Hosakote (Bengaluru Rural), KR Pet (Mandya), and Hunsur (Mysuru).
It was the resignations of 17 MLAs that brought down the 14-month Congress-JD(S) government. They were disqualified in July, 2019, by then Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar till the expiry of the Assembly term.
The results of the by-elections will play a crucial role in stabilising or destabilising the BJP government. The ruling party has to win in at least eight constituencies to reach the magic figure of 113 in 225-member Lower House to maintain stability of the government.
Of the15 constituencies, the Congress had won in 11 and the JD (S) in three, and the Karnataka Pragnyavanta Janata Paksha had won one seat in 2018. Currently, the BJP has 105 MLAs and the support of an Independent. After 17 MLAs resigned, the Assembly strength was reduced to 208, including an Independent.
The Congress and the JD(S) which fought the 2019 general elections together have decided to contest independently, after the bitter verbal duel among their leaders after the fall of the coalition arrangement.