- BJP's Raju Kage joined the Congress after being denied bypoll ticket
- Party colleague Sharath will contest from Hoskote as an independent
- BJP rewarded 13 disqualified MLAs with bypoll nominations on Thursday
A four-time Karnataka BJP MLA joined the Congress on Thursday amid mounting resentment over several disqualified lawmakers being fielded by the ruling party in the upcoming assembly bypolls as a reward for bringing down the HD Kumaraswamy government.
Raju Kage had lost Kagwad seat in North Karnataka to then Congress MLA Srimanth Patil in the 2018 assembly elections. With the Supreme Court allowing Srimanth Patil and his rebel colleagues to contest the elections through a verdict on Wednesday, the BJP has now fielded him from Kagwad instead of the veteran politician in the December bypolls.
"I joined Congress today. There is no condition for my joining. I worked hard for the BJP, won four times but got no cabinet berth. That's why I left," Mr Kage said, after being formally inducted into the Congress in Bengaluru.
Sixteen disqualified MLAs formerly with the Congress and Janata Dal Secular joined the BJP earlier today, with Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa making a strong case for them being given a shot at winning the upcoming bypolls. "Whatever promise we have given, we are going to fulfil. All our BJP workers will work day and night. The 15 MLAs who are going to contest the bypolls are going to win 100%," he said.
But this has not gone down well with everyone in the party. Sharath, the son of BJP MP Bache Gowda filed his nomination from Hoskote seat as an independent. The BJP ticket for the assembly constitution has been given to MTB Nagaraj, one of the wealthiest politicians in Karnataka who had left for Mumbai after practically promising his loyalty to coalition leaders in July.
Other former BJP candidates are more pliant, publicly at least, saying that they will support their former opponents. One such politician is Dr GV Manjunath, who had contested on a BJP ticket against then Congress candidate Dr K Sudhakar in Chikkaballapur in the 2018 polls. "This time, they have given the ticket to Dr Sudhakar. He had supported the BJP party, to help it form the government. As a soldier of the party, I have decided to support Dr Sudhakar," he said.