Bangalore, March 20 (IANS) Political parties in Karnataka welcomed single phase assembly elections May 5, announced earlier Wednesday by the Election Commission, and said they were ready for the battle.
The announcement of the poll schedule also intensified speculation that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in for more desertion from its ranks.
The party has lost three ministers and over ten assembly members to its former leader B.S. Yeddyurappa’s Karnataka Janata Party.
Yeddyurappa has been claiming that a number of BJP assembly members, including ministers, who are his supporters would join him after the election schedule is announced.
Jagadish Shettar, BJP’s third chief minister in the state, told reporters here that he welcomed the single phase poll and was confident of the party returning to power as it had given “good administration” to the state in its first term that began in May 2008.
He said despite efforts to bring down his government, it has completed the term. Shettar took office in July last year, succeeding D. V. Sadananda Gowda who had replaced Yeddyurappa in August 2011.
State BJP president K.S. Eshwarappa said the party would fight the polls alone and a meeting would be held March 23 to finalise the candidates for all the 224 constituencies.
The state assembly is 225 strong with 224 elected and one nominated member.
State Congress president G. Parameshwara said in a statement that the single phase election was welcome as that would “not give any scope to create confusion or mislead the voters”.
He said selection of party’s nominees for the polls was in “final stages and the names will be announced soon”.
Janata Dal-Secular state president H. D. Kumaraswamy also welcomed the single phase elections as phased polling would have given rise to “several illegal activities”. He said JD-S would contest all the 224 seats.
Yeddyurappa said his KJP too would fight in all the seats on its own.
Another new party formed by former BJP minister and jailed mining baron G. Janardhana Reddy’s loyalist B. Sriramulu is meanwhile trying to merge with BJP. This follows the new party’s dismal show in the March 7 municipal polls, even in the perceived Reddy’s stronghold of Bellary, 300 km north of Bangalore.
In the present assembly, the BJP has 104 members including the speaker, following resignation of 16 members from the house and the party, the Congress 71, the JD-S 25 and the rest are Independents.