The ruling BJP in Karnataka had the last laugh as it won all the three Rajya Sabha seats it had contested in, out of total four from the state, that went for polls on Friday, while the Congress managed to win only one of the two seats to which it had fielded its candidates.
The JD(S) which had fielded one candidate, despite not having enough votes, failed to win any, as Congress did not accept its request for support in the name of secularism. Incidentally, despite a whip, a JD(S) MLA voted for the Congress, saying he did so as he ”loved” the grand old party.
This poll results has given an edge to the BJP, amid the fight for ”secular votes” between the Congress and JD(S).
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, actor-politician Jaggesh, and outgoing MLC Lehar Singh Siroya –all from the BJP, and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh of Congress were declared victorious by the poll officials after counting of votes.
Sitharaman and Ramesh have been re-elected from Karnataka to the Upper House of Parliament for a consecutive third and fourth term respectively, while for Jaggesh and Siroya this will be their first stint.
There was suspense over the outcome of the contest for the fourth seat, which witnessed a tight contest between all the three political parties, as they had fielded candidates despite none of them having adequate number of votes to win it, and thereby forcing an election.
A total of six candidates were in the fray for the Rajya Sabha elections to four seats from the state, necessitating a contest for the fourth one.
The fight for the fourth seat saw a direct contest between Siroya (BJP’s third candidate), Mansoor Ali Khan (Congress’ second candidate) and D Kupendra Reddy (JDS’ lone nominee).
According to official sources, with the support of 46 MLAs each, Sitharaman and Ramesh got 4,600 votes each, while Jaggesh sailed through with the support of 44 MLAs and got 4,400 votes. With the support of 33 MLAs and second preferential votes Siroya got a total of 3,617 votes.
Reddy and Khan of JD(S) and Congress garnered 3,000 and 2,592 votes (a combination of both first and second preferential votes) respectively.
Each voter (MLA) carries a weight of 100 votes.
Fearing cross-voting, all three political parties had issued a whip, asking their respective MLAs to vote for their candidates.
The worry of ensuring that its numbers are intact and there is no cross-voting was greater for JD(S) and the party had last night shifted its MLAs to a hotel in the city, from where they all arrived together in a bus to Vidhana Soudha, the seat of state secretariat and legislature, to cast their votes.
Despite all its efforts the regional party’s Kolar MLA K Srinivas Gowda cast his vote for the Congress candidate defying the party’s diktat, while Gubbi MLA S R Srinivas allegedly put a blank ballot paper into the box, which left JD(S) legislature party leader H D Kumaraswamy fuming at his colleagues.
While Gowda accepted he voted for the Congress candidate stating that he did so since he ”loved” the party, Srinivas however rejected Kumaraswamy’s claim and insisted he voted for his party’s pick. There were also reports that Srinivas has voted in favour of BJP’s Siroya, when votes were counted.
For JD(S) it was a repeat of the 2016 Rajya Sabha polls, when eight of its rebel MLAs voted against its official candidate and supported the Congress.
Questioning the ”morality” of Congress leaders for their alleged involvement in cross voting, Kumaraswamy said, ”they go to people with slogans to save democracy, while Siddaramaiah and others are indulging in low level politics by hijacking MLAs of other parties…how different is Congress from the BJP? Congress is helping BJP to win.” State Congress President D K Shivakumar, rejecting Kumaraswamy’s hijack allegations, said, ”If we had to do it, there were half a dozen MLAs (JDS) ready, but we don’t want to do it…” According to sources within the Congress and JD(S), personal rivalry between Kumaraswamy and Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah led to BJP’s Siroya winning the fourth seat.
It is said that at the insistence of Siddaramaiah the party favoured fielding Mansoor Ali Khan as its second candidate, despite talks between JD(S) patriarch H D Deve Gowda and Congress national President Sonia Gandhi regarding supporting the regional party’s lone candidate. Even after this, talks between both sides with an aim to forge some kind of a formal understanding for RS polls reached a deadlock, as both parties firmly stuck to their stand.
Kumaraswamy had made an offer to trade second preference votes with the Congress and to ”start afresh” by forgetting the past between the two political parties, but the grand old party made it clear to the regional player that it was now time for it to return the favour, pointing out that former PM H D Deve Gowda got elected to the upper house of the Parliament last time with its support in June 2020.
A day ahead of the polls, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah on Thursday even wrote an open letter to JD(S) MLAs requesting them to cast their ”conscience vote” in favour of his party’s second candidate Khan, stating that his win will be a victory of ”secular ideology” followed by both parties.
With no support from Congress coming in at the last moment and a JD(S) MLAs voting in favour of the national party, Kumaraswamy today Congress the ”real B-team of the BJP”, and said this results marks the beginning of a new political change in the state ahead of 2023 assembly polls.
On its part, the ruling BJP, confident of winning three seats from the beginning, had tasked three ministers — R Ashoka, V Sunil Kumar and B C Nagesh — to oversee the voting process. It also took care to ensure that there is no cross voting and its numbers stood intact.
Congratulating its three winning candidates, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai thanked party MLAs, Ministers and leadership for the unity shown.
The election to four Rajya Sabha seats was necessitated as the term of office of members — Nirmala Sitharaman and K C Ramamurthy of BJP and Jairam Ramesh — is due to expire on June 30. The fourth member Oscar Fernandes of the Congress passed away last year. PTI