Will BS Yediyurappa government survive after bypolls?

Bengaluru: With the shadow of the Maha Vikas Aghadi in Maharashtra looming large over Karnataka, the state goes for a crucial bypoll election for 15 seats today that would decide whether BJP strongman BS Yediyurappa will see himself still sitting in the CM's chair beyond December 9 when its result will be declared.

The battle for the 15 seats has become tougher after the Maharashtra political episode, and the Congress and JD(S) have already formed what is called a shadow cabinet expecting Yediyurappa's fall.

The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance in Maharashtra has given a strong template on how political foes can come together to keep the BJP out.

“I think we should not miss an opportunity to keep the BJP at bay. Also, a dalit could become CM, which would be justice for the community,” said former Union Minister KH Muniyappa, a dalit.

If Yediyurappa fails to win 5 of the 15 seats, he will lose majority in the assembly. There are also talks that the BJP may coax a few Congress-JD(S) MLAs to resign and bring down the numbers in the house.

KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao admitted that the BJP may continue its Operation Lotus (poaching of rival party MLAs) after the bypolls if it fails to get a majority. “But, it would not succeed as no legislator would want to join the saffron party now,” Gundurao said.

But BJP sources said that after burning its fingers in Maharashtra, the party will not attempt any political misadventure in Karnataka and invite another black name.

In most of the seats, former Congress and JD(S) MLAs are seeking re-election under the banner of the BJP. But they are facing a tough time with the wind blowing against defectors.

Publicly, the BJP has exuded confidence that it would win at least 10 of the 15 seats — if not all. But top functionaries privately admitted that they might just scrape through.

The BJP is also facing rebellion within the party cadre and the simmering anger against the disqualified MLAs. Yediyurappa has kept cabinet seats warm for these MLAs once elected and this has angered loyalists.

Analysts say the BJP might win six or seven seats of the 15. This will save Yediyurappa's skin, but he will have to skate on thin ice.

There is another undercurrent. While former CM HD Kumaraswamy is keen to work with the Congress, his father and party supremo HD Deve Gowda is unwilling to share power with the Congress with Siddaramaiah at the helm.

He is therefore playing the dalit CM card to keep him at bay. Mallikarjun M Kharge and G Parameshwara are two known dalit faces in the Congress.

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