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Cong-JDS seal Karnataka RS deal

The Congress and the JD(S) have joined hands to grab two of the four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka for which nominations closed on Monday, report Saroj Nagi & BR Srikanth.
By Saroj Nagi & BR Srikanth | Hindustan Times, New Delhi/bangalore
UPDATED ON JUN 17, 2008 12:02 AM IST

In a deal that could have implications for the Lok Sabha elections next year, the Congress and the JD(S) have joined hands to grab two of the four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka for which nominations closed on Monday.

The two Congress candidates are former chief minister SM Krishna and mining baron Anil Lad who had unsuccessfully contested the recent Assembly polls.

The last minute trade-off committed the Congress to supporting the JD(S) for a seat in the Karnataka legislative council, setting the stage for floor coordination between the two legislative parties.

Sources said the pact was sealed after a telephonic conversation between JD(S) leader HD Deve Gowda and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel on Monday. JD(S) secretary general Danish Ali played a key role in bringing about the rapprochement.

Initially, Gowda had approached the Congress to support Ali’s candidature. Sonia called him up later with the request that he back her party’s second nominee in return for the legislative council seat. The offer initially did not impress Gowda. One reason was the candidature of Krishna, a fellow Vokkaligga, for the seat the Congress was in a position to win on its own. It was Ali’s last minute efforts that made him change his mind, leaving high and dry other bidders for JD(S) support like industrialists Vijay Mallya and Sajjan Jindal. Mallya’s request for support was turned down after the Congress picked as its second candidate Lad who reportedly also enjoys a good rapport with former CM HD Kumaraswamy.

With its strength of 80 legislators, the Congress needed the support of the 28-member JD(S) to make up the shortfall of about 12 votes to win the second Rajya Sabha seat. In return, the JD(S) which could have got only one council seat on its own will now get a second.

The BJP, which has 110 legislators in the 224-member House, can claim two clear Rajya Sabha seats on its own strength and still be left with a surplus of 18 votes.

On renewal of relationship between the two parties, Mallikarjun Kharge, KPCC chief and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, said it would be issue based. “Our high command will decide whether this relationship will be extended to long term one.”

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