The BJP may support industrialist Vijay Mallya in the ensuing biennial Rajya Sabha poll from Karnataka.
“We are choosing between two options: either put our weight behind Mallya — who already has the support of JD (S)’s 27 MLAs — to prevent the Congress from adding an extra member to its Rajya Sabha kitty, or allow Congress’s T.V. Maruthi to get elected,” said a leader.
Karnataka has four Rajya Sabha seats in the elections. The BJP can push in its two official candidates, M. Venkaiah Naidu and Ayanur Manjunath. The party has 116 MLAs — with six independents supporting it — and 45 first-preference votes are sufficient for a candidate to get through in Karnataka.
The party will thus have surplus votes that can be transferred to Mallya, who — if he gets BJP votes alongside JD(S) ones — stands a good chance of beating Congress’s second candidate Maruthi. The Congress with its strength of 74 MLAs can easily get its first candidate Oscar Fernandes through, but Maruthi’s victory is unlikely if BJP supports Mallya.
Mallya, sources say, was present at the recent global investors meet of the Karnataka government, perceived by many as an indication of growing closeness.
The political equation apart, sources say, the party would not mind having a prominent industrialist by its side.
In Rajasthan, Ram Jethmalani of the BJP will need the support of three independents to beat the Congress-supported Santosh Bagrodia, as Kirorilal Meena may not back him.
The Congress will easily get two candidates through, and the BJP one. For the fourth seat, there is a fight. Congress-backed Bagrodia hopes the anti-Jethmalani sentiment in the BJP will help him through cross-voting.
In Orissa, the BJP —with just six MLAs — has decided to abstain rather than going with the BJD or Congress, but it fears its legislators may be poached. The 103-member BJD can easily win two of the three seats going to polls. To stop it, the Congress had reportedly asked the BJP to support its candidate.