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Senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar on Monday accepted defeat in the Karnataka bypolls with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead in 12 of the 15 seats.

“We have to agree with the mandate of the voters of these 15 constituencies. People have accepted the defectors. We have accepted defeat, I don’t think we have to be disheartened,” Shivakumar was quoted as saying by news agency.

The BJP surged ahead when the counting of votes began On Monday morning. After eight rounds of counting, the BJP was leading in 12 constituencies, Congress in 2, Janata Dal (Secular) in 1 and an Independent candidate in 1 seat.

The BJP has the simple majority of 105 in the 208 member Karnataka assembly. Congress has 66 MLAs and JD(S) 34. Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa has to win six seats to retain power since his party also has the support of an Independent.

“We will win with a lead of 25,000-30,000 votes in most of the constituencies and will win all 15 seats,” Yediyurappa had said on Saturday.

The Congress and JD(S) combine has 101 seats and need to win in 12 seats to topple the BJP government.

The strength of the 225-member assembly was reduced after 17 legislators were disqualified by then speaker KR Ramesh Kumar. The 17 MLAs from Congress and JD(S) has resigned in July, which led to the fall of the HD Kumaraswamy government in the state.

Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar had disqualified 17 MLAs under anti-defection law. He has also barred them from contesting polls till the term of the current House end in 2023.

The Supreme Court last month upheld the disqualification of the 17 but allowed them to contest the bypolls.

The bypolls were held on 15 of the 17 vacant seats because pleas challenging the results in two seats in 2018 are being heard by the Karnataka high court.
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