EC notifies polls to 7 upper house seats in Karnataka: BJP to gain upper hand as its tally set to go up

The Election Commission on Tuesday announced the schedule for elections to the seven seats of the Legislative Council that are falling vacant next month.

Former deputy chief minister Laxman Savadi and senior member Lahar Singh Siroya are retiring from the BJP. Two JD(S) and three Congress members are also on their way out.

The EC has announced June 3 as the day of voting in which MLAs are the voters.

Karnataka Assembly has 225 members, including one nominated member. While the ruling BJP has 119 members, the Opposition Congress has 69 and JD(S) has 32 members. In the 75-member Legislative Council, also called the upper house, the BJP has 37, Congress 26, and JD(S) 10 members. These numbers are exclusive of Assembly Speaker and Council Chairman.

The BJP is hopeful of winning four seats, eating into one seat each of the Congress and JD(S), that will give the party an upper hand in the Council. In a separate development, Legislative Council chairman Basavaraj Horatti, a JD(S) veteran, too has announced his decision to quit the party and join the BJP. A veteran elected member from the teachers’ constituency, Horatti met union home minister Amit Shah in Benglauru on May 3, ahead of his formal joining of the BJP on a later date. He has planned to contest as BJP candidate from his constituency, the elections for which are yet to be notified.

For chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, the outcome of the June 3 polls will not mean much politically, but he will have an edge to push through his party’s reform programmes or bills connected with its ideology. He can look forward to comfortable passage of Bills as a lack of majority for the BJP in the upper house had blocked some contentious bills that were close to the party’s ideology, like for instance, anti-cow slaughter law. To push the land reforms bill too it had to bank on the JD(S) support in return for a political deal.

“The point of discussion here is not the BJP, but who it will nominate as its candidates,” a political analyst said. There are also speculations that BJP veteran BS Yediyurappa’s son BY Vijayendra may land a seat, and the party might even induct him as a minister to keep the former CM in good humour.

At another level, the BJP and the chief minister can use the Council election opportunity to placate one or two key power aspirants in the party by giving them tickets and making them MLCs. The BJP may opt for entirely new faces in place of Savadi and Lahar Singh, sources said.

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