Polls for 4 Rajya Sabha seats today in Karnataka, nail-biting finish on cards | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Polls for 4 Rajya Sabha seats today in Karnataka, nail-biting finish on cards

ByNaheed Ataulla, Bengaluru
Feb 27, 2024 01:39 AM IST

The Congress on Monday moved all its MLAs to a hotel to prevent any last minute poaching in elections for Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka on Tuesday

Bengaluru: The Congress on Monday moved all its MLAs to a hotel in Manyata Business Park to prevent any last minute poaching a day before the elections for four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka on Tuesday.

Kalyana Karnataka Pragati Paksha chief and MLA Janardhan Reddy meets chief minister Siddaramaiah and deputy CM DK Shivakumar on Monday. (ANI)
Kalyana Karnataka Pragati Paksha chief and MLA Janardhan Reddy meets chief minister Siddaramaiah and deputy CM DK Shivakumar on Monday. (ANI)

Of the four Independents, who are key to the victory, at least three are said to be supporting the Congress. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has support of one independent MLA. The Congress is also expecting a couple of Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs to vote for Congress candidate or abstain from voting.

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A Congress legislature party meeting held in the evening briefed the MLAs on the procedure of voting which is preferential voting. A mock voting exercise was also organised and the MLAs were informed to whom they have to give their first and second preference vote.

ALSO READ- Shadow of cross voting looms over Rajya Sabha polls in Karnataka

Earlier, Congress had 135 MLAs but became short of one after Surpur MLA Raja Venkatappa Naik passed away in Bengaluru on Sunday. In the Legislative Assembly, Shivakumar paid condolence to Naik.

Meanwhile, the general secretary of All India Congress Committee (AICC) and in-charge of Karnataka, Randeep Singh Surjewala, is camping in Bengaluru to ensure that all the three candidates of the party have a smooth sailing.

Meanwhile, the JD(S) and BJP, who are now electoral allies for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, held a joint meeting of the legislators at a private hotel in Bengaluru, said party insiders.

JD(S) leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, who has fielded party man and business magnate D Kupendra Reddy as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominee, exuded confidence at the meeting saying that they would get “conscience votes’’ from “unhappy” Congress MLAs.

However, according to the insiders, his own party MLA, Sharana Gowda Kandukur, was not present at the meeting.

Congress has fielded three candidates for the Rajya Sabha elections — renominated Syed Naseer Hussain and GC Chandrashekar, and brought in Ajay Maken, the AICC treasurer and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s confidant.

On the other hand, BJP with 66 MLAs, has given the ticket to Narayana Krishnasa Bhandage, a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The Congress claims the support of three Independent members and the BJP says, it has the support of mining baron G Janardhan Reddy.

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As he was an influential leader in the BJP, before the party distanced itself, following his imprisonment in the illegal mining scam, the BJP is banking on his vote.

Meanwhile, on the last day of the budget session, Shivakumar was seen sitting next to Janardhan Reddy who is the lone MLA of his party, Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha.

Soon after the House adjourned, Reddy was seen with Shivakumar before the returning officer for the elections to present the appointment letter of his authorised party agent.

The agent, Yogendra Vikram, is a close associate of Shivakumar to whom Janardhan Reddy has to show his ballot paper before casting it in the box.

Later, Shivakumar took Janardhana Reddy to meet chief minister Siddaramaiah at his residence.

Speaking to the media, Janardhan Reddy preferred to remain non-committal about his vote.

“All parties have approached me. I am yet to decide,’’ he said.

Later, Shivakumar spent some time in the Assembly lobby holding discussions with A Manju and GT Deve Gowda, both JD(S) MLAs and belonging to the Vokkaliga community, which the deputy CM represents.

Speaking to the media at the Bengaluru Embassy Hotel, Shivakumar said, “All party legislators will come to Vidhana Soudha together on Tuesday.”

Asked if there is any possibility of cross voting, he replied in negative.

Voting will commence on Tuesday at 9am and conclude at 4pm. Counting of votes will commence at 5pm.

As of now, Congress seems to be comfortable with its numbers, expecting all the 134 ruling party MLAs to adhere to the whip and the support of the three Independent members associated with it.

ALSO READ- Congress prez Kharge announces monthly 5k aid, if voted to power in Andhra

According to those familiar with the development, the party is also expecting Janardhan Reddy to join the league. Defying the party whip by any MLA elected on the party’s symbol will result in their disqualification.

A candidate needs 45 first preference votes to get elected.

The BJP after allotting 45, or 46 votes to be on the safer side, will be left with 22 or 21 surplus votes to be transferred to Kupendra Reddy. The JD(S) with 19 MLAs will still fall short of four to five votes for Kupendra Reddy.

According to BJP insiders, there is a likelihood of disgruntled party MLAs Shivaram Hebbar and ST Somashekhar, who have given enough indications of wanting to join the Congress at an appropriate time, either cross vote or abstain from voting.

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