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Rajya Sabha polls: All three parties to battle for the fourth seat in Karnataka

Congress writes to JDS MLAs to support their candidate

Karnataka CM polling in RS elections Karnataka CM Basavaraja Bommai casting vote in RS polls in Karnataka | Supplied image

The Rajya Sabha elections for the four vacancies from Karnataka, which are being held on Friday, will see three clear winners. But the fourth seat will see a pitched battle between all three political parties as none of them have adequate votes to secure a win.

While BJP candidates Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Kannada actor Jaggesh and Congress candidate former Union minister Jairam Ramesh are sure to get the quota— 45 votes each (first-preference votes)—to win the seat, Lehar Singh Siroya (BJP), Mansoor Ali Khan (Congress) and Kupendra Reddy of JD(S) will be battling it out for the fourth seat.

In the 224-member assembly, the ruling BJP has 120 seats (votes), Congress 69, JD(S) 32 and there are three independent legislators. Of these, BJP has the support of two independents (expelled BSP MLA N. Mahesh from Kollegal and H. Nagesh from Tiptur), while Congress has the support of Hoskote MLA Sharat Bachegowda.

The run-up to the polls saw arch-rivals—Congress and the JD(S)—engrossed in a prestige battle, with the Congress daring the JD(S) to prove its secular credentials by extending support to a minority candidate (Mansoor Ali Khan).

"The JD(S) should withdraw its candidate as it is not a fight between the parties but between communal and secular values. We fielded our candidate a day prior to the JD(S). It was the Congress party that made Kumaraswamy the chief minister in 2018 and again, the party supported H.D. Deve Gowda for Rajya Sabha. JD(S) should reciprocate the gesture by supporting our candidate," said KPCC chief D.K. Shivakumar.  

In a bid to counter the arm-twisting by the Congress, JD(S) leader and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy appealed to the Congress to support the JD(S) candidate (Kupendra Reddy), stating he was a senior politician. Siddaramaiah drew flak from Kumaraswamy after he wrote letters to the JD(S) legislators seeking their 'vote of conscience' to help the Congress candidate defeat the 'communal' BJP.

"Siddaramaiah has no moral right to appeal to my legislators. Siddaramaiah had tried to defeat them in the 2018 elections by calling the JD(S) as the B-team of the BJP to corner minority votes," said Kumaraswamy. 

All three parties have been keeping an eye on their legislators, fearing cross-voting. While the JD(S) chose to keep its flock together in a luxury hotel in Yeshwantpur, the Congress leadership warned its members against cross-voting, saying those who defy the party diktat would not get party tickets to contest in any elections. The BJP, which trained its legislators in casting the vote, also assigned vote preferences to each of its candidates to make it foolproof.

The BJP appointed national general secretary and Chikmagalur MLA C.T. Ravi as its election agent, while D.K. Shivakumar will represent the Congress and Holenarsipur MLA H. D. Revanna from the JD(S) will keep an eye on his party's MLAs in the polls.  

The JD(S) started off on a shaky wicket on Friday after one of its members raised the flag of revolt.  

Kolar MLA Srinivas Gowda was the first to declare he would be voting for the Congress, alleging he was ignored by the party leadership in the erstwhile coalition government despite him being a senior member. 

"I was a minister in the Dharam Singh government. But, I feel I am being ignored in the JD(S) as it has become a father-son party. I told Kupendra Reddy that I was no longer with the JD(S) and would be voting for Congress," said  Srinivas Gowda, adding that he had invited Siddaramaiah to contest from Kolar in the upcoming elections.

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