As the race for the fourth seat of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka intensified with candidates of all the three parties filing the nomination, political observers feel that the BJP seems to be having an edge to win the seat in the current circumstances if there is no large-scale cross-voting in favour of the Congress candidate. The move of the Janata Dal (Secular) is being observed keenly as its stand appears to be a key factor.
On Tuesday, the last day for filing the nominations, BJP candidates — Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Kannada actor Jaggesh, and MLC Lahar Singh Siroya, and JD(S) candidate and former Rajya Sabha member Kupendra Reddy filed their nominations. On Monday, the Congress, which sprung a surprise by fielding the second candidate, saw both its nominees — former Minister Jairam Ramesh and Mansoor Ali Khan — file their papers.
While the BJP and the Congress, with their numbers in the Legislative Assembly, are sure of winning two seats and one seat, respectively, the fourth seat is witnessing political upmanship between strategising party leaders. The elections are scheduled for June 10, and Mr. Siroya, Mr. Reddy, and Mr. Khan will be battling out for the fourth seat. A clear picture will be known after the last date of withdrawal of nomination on June 3 if any candidate withdraws from the fray.
As per the calculations, the BJP, with its additional 32 votes and 90 second-preferential votes, has an edge over the Congress, which will have additional 25 votes and 45 second-preferential votes. The JD(S) has 32 votes. “While candidates have to get 45 votes each to win the first three seats, the fourth seat winner will be decided on the basis of the highest number of votes after calculating the remaining votes along with the second-preferential votes. If there is cross-voting, all these calculations will go haywire. Parties have their own calculations,” Secretariat sources explained.
JD(S) leaders with the party candidate for the Rajya Sabha election, Kupendra Reddy, at the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
| Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR
The development around the fourth seat, it is learnt, has made the JD(S) edgy, and the party is now awaiting its leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s arrival from Singapore where he has gone for a medical check-up. The party is also cagey about cross-voting from some of its disgruntled legislators. On the other hand, JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda is learnt to have confabulated on the issue with AICC president Sonia Gandhi, indicating that the party is keen on securing the seat.
Meanwhile, in a scathing attack on Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah, who is believed to have impressed the Congress leadership to field the second candidate to expose an alleged internal arrangement between the BJP and the JD(S) in the polls, Mr. Kumaraswamy on Tuesday accused him sacrificing the interests of Muslim politics by fielding a Muslim candidate despite being sure of losing. “If he was interested in the welfare of Muslims, Mr. Mansoor [ Ali Khan] should have been made the first candidate. What is this politics of using Muslims leaders — whom you are pushing into the guillotine — in the Rajya Sabha elections,” he said in a series of tweets.
However, Congress sources justified the development and said that it was the party’s prerogative to field the candidate to safeguard its votes. “We are sure of winning since many legislators from other parties, especially the JD(S) who are upset with their party, are likely to cross-vote. If the JD(S) has secular credentials, then it must support our Muslim candidate instead of fielding its own candidate,” party sources said.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders, including Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, the former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, and BJP State president Nalin Kumar Kateel exuded confidence that their third candidate would win the election. “I am sure of the party winning the third seat being contested by Mr. Siroya,” Mr. Yediyurappa said.