Bangalore, Jan 23: The BJP Thursday became the main opposition party in the Karnataka assembly, replacing Janata Dal-Secular, as its numbers went up in the house following the merger of B.S. Yeddyurappa-led Karnataka Janata Party with it.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s strength in the 225-member assembly is now 44, four more than the JD-S. This comprises 40 of the BJP and four of the KJP, including Yeddyurappa, who was BJP’s first chief minister in the state in 2008-2011.
Former BJP chief minister Jagadish Shettar has been recognised as the leader of opposition in the assembly, Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa announced.
On Wednesday, Thimmappa had recognised the merger of the four-member KJP with the 40-member BJP.
Shettar replaced former JD-S chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, son of JD-S president and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, as leader of the opposition.
The BJP and JD-S had won 40 seats each in the assembly elections last May which brought the Congress back to power in the state on its own after nine years.
However, the JD-S had been recognised as the main opposition party as its vote share in the elections was higher.
The KJP, which Yeddyurappa headed after quitting BJP in December 2012, won six seats in the May polls. But only four – Yeddyurappa, U.B. Banakar, Gurupadappa Nagmarpalli and Vishwanath Patil – gave a letter to the speaker early this month stating they want to be recognised as BJP members in the house as the KJP had merged with that party.
The other two – B.R. Patil and Guru Patil – have not made their plans public.
Becoming the main opposition and bagging the post of the leader of the opposition in the assembly comes as a morale booster to BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
In the 2009 general elections, the BJP, in power in the state then, won 19 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats from the state. It is hoping to improve on this performance this year taking on the Congress which inflicted heavy defeat on it in the May 2013 assembly polls.