Business tycoon Vijay Mallya is set to win the Rajya Sabha poll in Bangalore on Thursday as an independent with the support of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Janata Dal-Secular.
The BJP, however, is fighting shy of openly saying its surplus votes will go to Mallya as he is backed by arch-rival JD-S.
"We have decided to defeat the Congress," state BJP president KS Eshwarappa told reporters after a meeting of party legislators in Bangalore on Wednesday. It was attended by former BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu, state Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa and all party legislators.
The meeting was called to formally decide on what the party should do with its surplus votes.
Asked why the party is not openly saying it will support Mallya, a spokesperson said: "When we say we have decided to defeat Congress, it indirectly means we will support Mallya".
Voting will take place for four seats. There are five candidates, two each from BJP and Congress, and Mallya, who has entered the fray as an Independent sponsored by the JD-S.
Mallya, who is assured of support by the 27 JD-S Assembly members, needs another 17 votes for victory and has been lobbying with BJP for those ballots.
A candidate needs 45 first preference votes of Assembly members, who make up the electoral college for the Rajya Sabha polls, to get elected.
The BJP, with 116 legislators and support of five independents, is assured of victory of its two candidates, former party president M Venkaiah Naidu and state leader Ayanur Manjunath.
The Congress with 74 members can win one seat for which it has fielded general secretary and former union minister Oscar Fernandes.
The battle for the fourth seat is between Mallya and Congress' second candidate TV Maruthi, one of the biggest silk merchants in Karnataka.
BJP's formulation of "defeat the Congress" has been arrived at as there was opposition by a section within the party to back Mallya because JD-S had proposed his name.
BJP is angry with JD-S as it had gone back on transferring power to it in 2007 as part of the understanding when the two formed a coalition government in 2006.
Another reason is that Mallya had defeated BJP’s candidate in the 2002 Rajya Sabha poll from Karnataka.
His entry as an independent then had prompted several BJP legislators to vote for him against the party's nominee DK Tharadevi, who was earlier a Congress Lok Sabha member.