The Election Commission on Friday postponed the bye-elections to 15 Assembly constituencies in Karnataka to December 5, The Indian Express reported. The results will be declared on December 9. The bye-poll dates for two other constituencies have not yet been announced.

The bye-polls were originally scheduled for October 21, with the counting planned for October 24. However, on Thursday, the Election Commission told the Supreme Court that it will defer the bye-polls until the court decides on petitions filed against the disqualification of the previous legislators from those seats. The bench will hear the case next on October 22.

The revised last date for filing of nominations is November 18, and the last date for withdrawal of nominations is November 21, the Hindustan Times reported.

The polls are crucial for the survival of the BS Yediyurappa-led Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka, as it needs to win at least eight of the 17 seats to stay in power. The party had come to power in July after 17 MLAs of the ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition had withdrawn support and were disqualified by then Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar.

Following their absence from the Assembly during the trust vote, three rebel Congress MLAs – R Shankar, Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathahalli – were disqualified on July 25 till the end of the Assembly’s term in 2023. The rest – Pratap Gouda Patil, BC Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, ST Somashekar, Byrathi Basavaraj, Anand Singh, Roshan Baig, K Sudhakar, Muniratna, MTB Nagaraj and Shrimant Patil of the Congress, and Janata Dal (Secular) legislators H Vishwanath, Narayana Gowda and Gopalaiah – were disqualified for the same period three days later.

On Wednesday, new Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri’s office told the Supreme Court while hearing the rebel MLAs’ petitions that a lawmaker’s right to resignation is a “democratic right”. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for some of the disqualified MLAs, had said that the upcoming bye-polls should be stayed or deferred till the top court announces its verdict in the case.

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