Bengaluru: The ruling BJP expelled two rebel members from the party for contesting in the December 5 Assembly bypolls from two constituencies defying its directive, a party official said on Friday.
"The party has expelled Sharath Bachegowda and Kaviraj Urs for not withdrawing their nominations from the Hoskote segment in Bengaluru Rural district and Vijayanagar segment in the northwest Ballari district," BJP's state unit spokesman G. Madhusudana told IANS here.
Defectors M. T. B. Nagaraj and Anand Singh were the party's official candidates in Hoskote and Vijayanagara from where they had won on the Congress ticket in May 2018 Assembly elections in the southern state.
"We waited for Sharath and Kaviraj to withdraw the nominations they filed as Independents by Thursday, which was the last date of withdrawal for the bypolls. As they both did not, the party had no option, but to expel them for six years, as warned earlier," asserted Madhusudhan.
Sharath is the son of BJP's Lok Sabha member B.N. Bache Gowda from Chickaballapur constituency.
The Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), which is contesting separately in the by-elections, extended its support to Sharath by not fielding its candidate.
One of the richest politicians across the country, Nagaraj has disclosed assets valued at Rs 1,223 crore in the affidavit filed with the Election Commission to re-contest from Hoskote.
Singh defeated Urs in the May 2018 Assembly elections from Vijayanagara.
Meanwhile, two JD-S candidates -- Shivalinga Shivacharya Swami and Guruppa Dasyal withdrew the nominations they filed to contest from the Hirekerur segment in Havari district and Yellapura segment in Uttara Kannada district, reportedly under pressure from the BJP.
"Swami and Dasyal withdrew their nominations on Thursday despite the party leadership directing them to stay in the contest as our party is in the fray against the BJP and Congress candidates in all the 15 by-elections across the state," JD-S general secretary Ramesh Babu told IANS here.
The BJP has fielded defectors B. C. Patil and Shivram Hebbar, who won the Hirekeruru and Yellapura seats in the May 2018 Assembly elections on the Congress tickets.
As a result, the by-elections will be a triangular contest in 13 Assembly segments and direct in Hirekerur and Yellapur following the withdrawal of the JD-S candidates from the electoral battle.
The bypolls have been necessitated due to the disqualification of the 14 Congress and three JD-S rebel legislators after they resigned from their Assembly seats in July in protest against the former coalition government's poor functioning.
Though former Assembly speaker K. R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified the 17 former rebel lawmakers on July 25-28 for reportedly defying their party whip, bypolls in Muski (Raichur district) and R. R. Nagar (Bengaluru southwest) have been withheld due to litigation in the Karnataka High Court over their results in the May 2018 Assembly elections.
The bypolls will be held in Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapura, Hirekerur, Ranibennur, Vijaynagara, Chickballapura, K. R. Pura, Yeshwanthpura, Mahalakshmi Layout, Shivajinagara, Hosakote, K. R. Pete and Hunsur.
In all, 165 candidates, including 126 Independents and 9 women are in the fray for the 15 Assembly bypolls. The counting will be held on December 9.