In Karnataka, ruling Congress secures 3, BJP fails to win second Rajya Sabha seat | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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In Karnataka, ruling Congress secures 3, BJP fails to win second Rajya Sabha seat

ByNaheed Ataulla, New Delhi
Feb 28, 2024 07:54 AM IST

Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs defied the party diktat in the elections to four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka, and although their voting behaviour – one voted for the Opposition and another just didn’t turn up – did not change the outcome, it did raise questions about the party’s alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular).

Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs defied the party diktat in the elections to four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka, and although their voting behaviour – one voted for the Opposition and another just didn’t turn up – did not change the outcome, it did raise questions about the party’s alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular).

Karnataka deputy chief minister D K Shivakumar with newly-elected Congress Rajya Sabha MPs Syed Naseer Hussain, GC Chandrashekar, Ajay Makhan and others, at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru on Tuesday. (PTI)
Karnataka deputy chief minister D K Shivakumar with newly-elected Congress Rajya Sabha MPs Syed Naseer Hussain, GC Chandrashekar, Ajay Makhan and others, at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru on Tuesday. (PTI)

The three Congress candidates – Ajay Maken, Syed Naseer Hussain and G C Chandrasekhar – won, as they were expected to, as did BJP’s Narayana Bhandage. The election was made interesting by the BJP-JD(S) alliance fielding a fifth candidate, from the JD(S), following a decision by the two parties to contest the Lok Sabha elections together.

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The nomination of the additional candidate set off speculation that the BJP and JD(S) had convinced some Congress legislators to cross vote, but that wasn’t to be. In fact, it was BJP MLA representing Yeshawanthpur constituency in Bengaluru, ST Somashekar, who cross-voted for the Congress, while another BJP MLA, A Shivaram Hebbar of Yellapur constituency in Uttara Kannada district, did not put in an appearance. BJP poll managers sought to reach him but his phone was switched off.

Of the 223 legislators, 222 voted. A candidate needed 45 votes to win. Maken and Hussain received 47 votes each, and Chandrasekhar, 45. The party and its allies have 134 legislators, and received five more from independents, and Somashekar. Bhandage polled 47 votes from the BJP, but the fifth candidate NDA nominee and business magnate, D Kupendra Reddy, received only 36 votes.

Congress leaders said they had factored in the four independents but that Somashekar’s vote was a bonus. This is the third time that Kupendra Reddy, who describes himself as an “infrastructure developer” in the election affidavit and declared assets of around 1,200 crore, is being defeated in the Rajya Sabha polls. For the BJP and JD(S), this was the second defeat within a month after the electoral pact was sealed in September last. They lost the election to the lone Legislative Council seat from the Teachers’ constituency recently – the candidate was from the JD(S) again.

There was high drama when Somashekar arrived in the Vidhana Soudha to cast his vote around noon. He dodged the BJP’s chief whip Doddannagouda G Patil (although party whips do not hold for Rajya Sabha elections), and said his vote would be a “conscience vote” based on what was good for his constituency.

Confirming that Somashekar cross-voted, Patil said, “We are discussing what can be done and what action needs to be taken.’’ Action would require the party to submit a petition to the assembly speaker to seek his disqualification, or expel them from the party. There is speculation that both the MLAs might resign from the membership after the assembly adjourns sine dine on Wednesday, which would render any disciplinary action against them infructuous.

Chief minister Siddaramaiah thanked Somashekar: “Let them keep their (BJP’s) MLAs intact. Cross-voting is only possible in the BJP, not in Congress.’’

JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy put up a brave front. “I fielded a JD(S) candidate only to keep my party MLAs together as there were reports that 10 to 15 MLAs of ours would switch over to the Congress. The fact that all the 19 members voted for Kupendra Reddy proves we are a united family,” he said.

AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, Randeep Singh Surjewala, while speaking to reporters, posed a question to the Opposition: “I want to ask BJP leaders JP Nadda, BY Vijayendra and R Ashoka and JD(S)’s Kumaraswamy, when they did not have the numbers, why did they put up a tycoon to buy votes of legislators who have been voted by the people of Karnataka?’’

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