The BJP enjoys a wafer-thin majority in the state and needs to win six out of the 15 to retain power since it also enjoys the support of an Independent lawmaker. It currently has the simple majority of 105 in the 208 member assembly.
The strength of the assembly was reduced following the disqualification of 17 lawmakers, whose resignations in July toppled the Congress-JD(S) coalition government. The two parties have a combined strength of 101 seats. They will have to win at least 12 seats and come together to topple the Yediyurappa government.
The Supreme Court last month upheld the disqualification of the 17 even as it allowed them to contest the bypolls. KR Ramesh Kumar, the then Karnataka Assembly Speaker, disqualified the 17 under the anti-defection law and barred them from contesting polls until the term of the current House ends in 2023.
The bypolls were held on 15 out of the 17 vacant assembly seats since petitions challenging the results of the remaining two seats in 2018 elections remain pending before the Karnataka high court. They were rescheduled in view of the top court’s verdict on disqualification of the 17.
The leaders of the ruling party have expressed confidence that they would be able to retain power in Karnataka, days after their oldest ally in neighbouring Maharashtra, Shiv Sena, parted ways with the BJP to form a government in alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress. The BJP earlier failed to get a majority on its own in Haryana and had to form a government in alliance with the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP). The BJP was expected to sweep the polls in both Haryana and Maharashtra.
“We will win with a lead of 25,000-30,000 votes in most of the constituencies and according to our estimate, we are confident of winning all 15 seats,” Yediyurappa told reporters on Saturday.
Deputy chief minister C N Ashwathnarayan said the BJP would win a maximum number of seats, adding that a stable and strong government would continue in the state. The BJP fielded 13 of the disqualified legislators, who joined the party after the Supreme Court’s verdict, in the bypolls. They had won these seats in the 2018 assembly elections on Congress and JD(S) tickets.
The Congress held the 12 of the 15 seats and the JD (S) the remaining three.