Thirteen of the 17 MLAs whose rebellion brought down the Janata Dal Secular-Congress government in Karnataka in July, paving the way for the BJP's takeover, will contest the assembly by-polls as BJP candidates. The ruling party named them on Thursday as its candidates for the December 5 by-polls.
The by-polls are being held in 15 seats left vacant by the disqualification of the JDS and Congress MLAs whose exodus plunged the previous HD Kumaraswamy government into a minority.
The JDS and Congress rebels who will contest from their seats as BJP candidates this time include Mahesh Kumatalli, Srimanthagouda Patil, Ramesh Jarakiholi, Shivaram Hebbar, BC Patil, Anand Singh, K Sudhakar, Bhairathi Basavaraj, ST Somashekar, K Gopalaiah, MTB Nagaraj, KC Narayanagowda and H Vishwanath.
The disqualification was confirmed by the Supreme Court yesterday, but former Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar's order banning the MLAs from contesting polls till 2023 - the term of the current assembly - was cancelled.
Soon after the court's decision, the MLAs said they would join the BJP, and this was endorsed by Chief Minister Yediyurappa.
"It is because of the sacrifice of these 17 Congress- JDS legislators and their resignation as MLAs, some even as ministers, that I have been able to take oath as Chief Minister," Mr Yediyurappa said on Thursday, welcoming the rebels into his party.
"As the Chief Minister along with the party president, I would like to assure you that we will keep up the promise made to you word to word and won't betray you," said a grateful Chief Minister.
Fourteen of the rebels were from the Congress and three from the JDS. They were disqualified under the anti-defection law as they refused to attend the assembly despite entreaties by the Congress and JDS, which finally lost a trust vote.
The BJP is confident of winning a majority of the 15 constituencies where bypolls will be held.
"We will hundred per cent win 15 out of 15 seats, let there be no doubt, I want to assure this to those joining the party...My greetings to former MLAs, who are also the future MLAs and Ministers," said Mr Yediyurappa.
The BJP, which has 106 MLAs, will need to win at least six out of those 15 seats to remain in power. The JDS and Congress have 101 members in the 224-member assembly, where 113 is the majority mark.