"We have submitted a letter to the Honourable Speaker (Kagodu Thimappa) seeking the status of principal Opposition Party," BJP Floor Leader in Assembly Jagadish Shettar told reporters outside the Speaker's chamber here. BJP's claim comes a day after Yeddyurappa, hastening formalities for the merger, met the Speaker and conveyed KJP's merger decision.
If the KJP-BJP merger is ratified by the Election Commission, JDS would lose its status of principal opposition as it would increase BJP's tally of seats. Both BJP and JDS had secured 40 seats each in the May 8 Assembly polls, but the latter was given principal opposition status on the basis of the percentage of votes secured by it.
Shettar said the Speaker told them he is examining the matter and added the merger issue would be decided by the Election Commission. "If two-thirds of the members of any party merges with any other party, then (the authorities concerned) should consider the merger," he added. Even as BJP and KJP are going through the process of merger, they are facing some hiccups in the form of KJP MLAs Guru Patil and B R Patil, who are opposing the move.
Another hiccup came in the form of KJP founder Padmanabha Prasanna Kumar as he met Thimappa and requested him to stop the merger process as a case is pending in the Karnataka civil court and the Supreme Court.
"I requested the Speaker to stop the process until the Supreme Court gives its verdict on the issue of presidentship of KJP," said Kumar, who has challenged the EC's order recognising Yeddyurappa as KJP president. Kumar had formed KJP which had remained a non-entity until Yeddyurappa deserted BJP and joined that party at a rally in Haveri in December 2012 to become its chief. Kumar claimed Yeddyurappa had violated election rules, while declaring himself as President of KJP. EC had subsequently recognised Yedyurappa as KJP President and rejected Kumar's claim as the Founder President. Shettar said he would remain the Floor Leader in the Assembly. "I am the Floor Leader for now, and will continue to be so," he said. Yeddyurappa will join the BJP on January 9, Shettar said.