Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said on Monday that the Bharatiya Janata Party will give bye-poll tickets to the disqualified Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs if they want to contest, PTI reported. Yediyurappa said that BJP National President Amit Shah clarified that it was “our” responsibility to give the disqualified MLAs tickets.

Assembly bye-elections for 15 of the 17 vacant seats will be held in Karnataka on December 5, and the results announced on December 9. The elections were to be held on October 21. However, the Election Commission told the Supreme Court earlier this month 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 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.

“Bye-elections are coming up, dates have been announced for 15 seats, Amit Shah has said that those who have resigned and want to contest from BJP, all of them will be given [tickets], it is our responsibility,” the chief minister told reporters in his hometown of Shikaripura in Shimoga district.

“If you desire to contest from our party, priority will be given to you in making you candidates,” Yediyurappa added. “BJP karyakartas and leaders will take responsibility for your victory.”

Yediyurappa’s clarification came amid reports of increasing dissent in the state BJP unit over giving tickets to disqualified legislators from the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular). Aspirants and party candidates defeated in the 2018 Assembly polls said tickets should be given to those who are BJP loyalists.

Senior BJP MLA Umesh Katti had said on Sunday that the disqualified legislators “will have to find their way” in the party.

However, Yediyurappa said opportunities will be created in boards and corporations for 10 to 12 BJP leaders who had lost the 2018 Assembly polls by narrow margins. “The opportunity will be created for them so that they will work for the victory of those [disqualified MLAs] who were responsible for the party coming to power,” he added.

Disqualified Congress legislator BC Patil welcomed Yediyurappa’s statement. “It is a matter of happiness. We will all sit together and decide on it in the future,” he said.

Meanwhile, Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah predicted that the BJP government in the state will collapse and said mid-term polls are possible, PTI reported. He also claimed that the Congress will win all 15 seats in the bye-elections.

“BJP has formed the government with the support of 105 MLAs,” Siddaramaiah told reporters in Raichur. “They don’t have 113 MLAs. It is a minority government, that too formed immorally by luring Congress-JD(S) legislators. The government was not formed with a public mandate. There are then chances that election may come.”

The HD Kumaraswamy-led Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) combine lost power in July after it failed to win a trust vote in the Karnataka Assembly. The failure came about as a result of the resignation of 17 MLAs of the two parties, most of whom ended up locked into a Mumbai hotel. Former Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar had disqualified the MLAs. Days later, Yediyurappa formed a BJP minority government with the support of 105 MLAs.

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