Sixteen out of the total 17 disqualified Congress and JD(S) MLAs of the Karnataka Assembly joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday. This comes after the Supreme Court verdict on Wednesday upheld their disqualifications but allowed them to contest in the bye-elections set to be held on December 5.
All disqualified MLAs, with the exception of former Shivajinagar MLA Roshan Baig, were inducted into the BJP during a ceremony held at the party's office in Bengaluru. Fifteen constituencies will go to polls next month, with the exception of RR Nagar and Maski constituencies.
The politicians were disqualified by the former Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar in July. At the same time, the 17 MLAs with the exception of Shrimant Patil and R Shankar, approached the Speaker with resignation letters.
The disqualifications of these MLAs paved the way for BJP to form the government in Karnataka in July. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court upheld the disqualifications of the MLAs but allowed the MLAs to contest in the bye-elections.
"The state of affairs in the previous government meant that we had to resign from the Assembly. We wholeheartedly welcome the chance to join the BJP and we will be doing everything to help our candidates in the upcoming elections", former Hunsur MLA AH Vishwanath said.
The former MLAs who joined the BJP on Thursday are — Ramesh Jarkiholi, AH Vishwanath, Pratapgouda Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, BC Patil, Mahesh Kumathalli, Anand Singh, Sudhakar, Byrathi Basavaraj, ST Somashekar, Muniratna, Gopalaiah, Narayan Gowda, R Shankar, Shrimant Patil, and MTB Nagaraj.
MTB Nagaraj was not present during the induction ceremony, but sources from the BJP confirmed that he had joined the party.
Roshan Baig, another disqualified MLA, was conspicuous in his absence. BJP did not clarify if he had joined the party. Roshan is a seven-time legislator and a former minister in the Congress government. He resigned on July 10 from the Shivajinagar assembly segment in the centre of Bengaluru.
The Congress had also suspended Baig on June 19 for his alleged anti-party activities, including criticism of the party's state leaders after the recent Lok Sabha elections in which the party was routed in Karnataka.
A party communication on Wednesday left out Roshan's name from the list of disqualified MLAs inducted into the BJP. Despite this, Roshan Baig claimed that it was a typing error and that he was joining the BJP. Roshan is accused in the IMA scam which came to light in his constituency earlier this year.