Any decision that legitimises the 17 will be a huge boost and a safety net for the Yediyurappa government.
The Election Commission’s submission to the Supreme Court on deferring bypolls that it had announced for October 21, even before the Supreme Court had taken a call on whether the 17 legislators, disqualified by the Assembly Speaker, had a right to contest or not, may have given the rebels as much as Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa, and the Congress and Janata Dal(S), a much-needed reprieve.
But it’s only a 30-day breather as the Supreme Court will hear the case on October 22. Any decision that legitimises the 17 will be a huge boost and a safety net for the Yediyurappa government.
Either way, with the last day for filing nominations set for September 30, and a bitter fight already underway in all three political parties over ticket allocations, no one had the stomach, or the funds, for a fresh electoral bout. The Congress’ troubleshooter D.K. Shivakumar is in ED custody. The JD(S) doesn't have candidates to field in all these seats.
In fact, while the EC’s inexplicable rush to announce dates before the status of the disqualified MLAs was decided is mystifying, the only person smiling may be the CM. The 17 rebels will have to hold back on the pressure they have been exerting on Mr Yediyurappa to accommodate them in the Cabinet, their payback for bringing the Congress-JD(S) government down. The CM may not have a full Cabinet to run the flood-hit state, but it's a carrot he can continue to dangle to keep the 17 in line.
For the BJP in Delhi, cold to the idea of the ageing Mr Yediyurappa toppling the government to bring himself in, it gives the party bosses time to focus on what matters: the state polls in Maharashtra and Haryana. Karnataka can wait.