Shadow of cross voting looms over Rajya Sabha polls in Karnataka | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Shadow of cross voting looms over Rajya Sabha polls in Karnataka

ByNaheed Ataulla, Bengaluru
Feb 26, 2024 05:00 AM IST

JD(S) and BJP are exploring options of getting the ruling Congress MLAs to cross vote as the NDA nominee, D Kupendra Reddy, is falling short of four votes

The Janata Dal (Secular) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) together, which faced their first defeat in the recently held election to the lone Teachers’ constituency seat from the Legislative Council, is pulling all stops to avoid a similar embarrassment in the Rajya Sabha elections on February 27.

A candidate needs 45 first preference votes to get elected to the Rajya Sabha. (ANI)
A candidate needs 45 first preference votes to get elected to the Rajya Sabha. (ANI)

In this endeavour, JD(S) and BJP are exploring options of getting the ruling Congress MLAs to cross vote as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominee, D Kupendra Reddy, is falling short of four votes, leaders familiar with the development said.

HT launches Crick-it, a one stop destination to catch Cricket, anytime, anywhere. Explore now!

This has led to a spate of allegations and verbal duel between deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar and JD(S) leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, who during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections had said they were “jodi yethu” (pair of bullocks).

ALSO READ- RLD signals it will vote for BJP in Rajya Sabha polls, takes step closer to tie-up for Lok Sabha election

Shivakumar has accused Kumaraswamy of making offers to Congress MLAs to buy votes.

“I know who is contacting whom and how they are threatening. Our MLAs have told us about the offers they are receiving. We know what BJP and JD(S) are planning. We have our own strategy,” Shivakumar told the media on February 19.

To substantiate allegations, Congress MLA from Ganiga P Ravi Kumar submitted a two-page complaint to Bengaluru police commissioner B Dayanand on February 20. In the complaint, he claimed of having proof against some senior BJP and JD (S) leaders who have approached three Independent MLAs associated with the Congress. “Once an inquiry is initiated, I will submit all evidence, which ranges from inducements to threatening them with consequences, ’he claimed.

However, Kumaraswamy refuted the allegations, saying that “unhappy” Congress MLAs had contacted him.

BJP spokesperson and former MLC, Ashwath Narayan Gowda also maintained that “We are not trying to poach any MLAs. We have the numbers to win the first candidate and the second candidate needs a few more votes. It is common to seek votes when anybody is a little short. We are not asking anybody to cross vote.”

ALSO READ- Karnataka assembly passes bill for 60% Kannada on signboards

Political analyst Prof Muzaffar H Assadi has ruled out the possibility of cross voting from Congress MLAs.

“The Congress in Karnataka is on a sound political footing unlike states like Maharashtra. The NDA partners are expecting the political equations to change by fielding money bag Kupendra Reddy, which is unlikely to happen. But possibilities of cross voting or horse trading during elections to Upper Houses are there when the term of the MLAs is due to end,” added Assadi who is the former political scientist and dean, faculty of arts, University of Mysore.

For elections to the four seats, the Congress based on its numerical strength of 134 MLAs and support of three Independents in the Legislative Assembly has fielded three candidates — renominated Syed Naseer Hussain, GC Chandrashekar and brought in AICC treasurer and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s confidant Ajay Maken. Earlier, Congress had 135 MLAs but became short of one after Surpur MLA Raja Venkatappa Naik passed away in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Meanwhile, BJP with 66 MLAs has given the ticket to a hardcore member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Narayana Krishnasa Bhandage. JD(S), which has never missed to field a candidate despite not having the requisite numbers since 2004 has given the ticket to business magnate Reddy.

A candidate needs 45 first preference votes to get elected.

Cross voting or fielding candidates to the Rajya Sabha or the Legislative Council by parties in Karnataka not having the requisite number started in 2004.

The trend of giving tickets to business magnates by the JD(S) also has a two-decade history. It started with business tycoon Vijay Mallya contesting the Rajya Sabha elections as an Independent with the support of the Congress and winning with the support of all parties in 2002.

In 2004, BJP gave the Rajya Sabha ticket to late former chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde’s wife Shakuntala Hegde, when it did not have the numbers to get a second candidate elected. She faced a defeat by securing just 38 votes against the required 45.

The Rajya Sabha elections in 2016 was the peak of MLAs defying the party whip and voting for the ruling party’s nominee. Sting operations by media channels, where some Independent MLAs reportedly said, they would vote for the ruling party candidates as they had been promised development funds for their constituencies, resulted in the JD(S) petitioning the Election Commission to defer the elections.

But the commission decided against cancelling or postponing the elections, saying the sting operations were not evidence enough to prove that money power was used to influence the MLAs.

“Such punishment (of cancelling or postponing of elections) to the state Legislative Assembly and the people of Karnataka would not be commensurate with the demeaning act of few members of its Legislative Assembly,’’ the commission stated.

The order also said, the demand for cancellation of elections by drawing an analogy of biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand in 2012, is not valid because the facts in both the cases were different.

An amount of 2.5 crore was found in the car of the contesting candidate in Jharkhand which was intended to be distributed to the voters, but in Karnataka no evidence of money paid was found.

The 2016 elections also saw seven JD(S) candidates defying the party whip and voting for the Congress candidate KC Ramamurthy leading to the defeat of JD(S) candidate BM Farook. The JD(S) petitioned then speaker KB Koliwad to disqualify them, who reserved his judgement. Two years later in 2018, the same seven JD(S)MLAs once again voted against Farook and a day later, resigned from the party to join the Congress.

In 2022, the JD(S) after promising to support the Congress candidate went back on its word and fielded Reddy. There were six candidates for four seats as the BJP tried to encash on the discord between the Congress and JD(S) and fielded a third candidate though it was short of votes. The BJP’s third candidate Lahar Singh Siroya won and the JD(S) had to face the ignominy of two MLAs defying the whip.

ALSO READ- Congress issues whip for Rajya Sabha polls, Sukhu faces battle of prestige

This time, according to Congress sources, the party is confident of its 137 votes being intact.

”Though candidates have to get 45 votes, we have all been allotted 46 votes. It’s the JD(S) and BJP who have to secure their votes,’’ candidate GC Chandrashekar said.

Chief minister Siddaramaiah said, no Congress MLA would risk their membership for cash-for-votes, when they have four more years to go.

According to Congress party insiders, two MLAs from the BJP camp, ST Somashekhar and Shivaram Hebbar, and one from JD(S) Sharangouda Kandakur, who have stopped attending their respective parties’ meetings, are likely to support the Congress candidates in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections.

The leaders also do not rule out the possibility of some opposition MLAs abstaining from voting thereby bringing down the number of votes a candidate needs to win.

Discover the complete story of India's general elections on our exclusive Elections Product! Access all the content absolutely free on the HT App. Download now!

Get Current Updates on India News, Elections 2024, Election 2024 Date along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.
Share this article
Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, April 22, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On