As the countdown started for the Rajya Sabha elections in Karnataka, the fear of cross voting is haunting all major parties of the state including the ruling BJP. The opposition Congress, regional party JD(S) and BJP in Karnataka are eying the fourth seat. There are six candidates in the fray for four Rajya Sabha seats, but the actual fight is for the fourth seat.
The elections are scheduled for June 10 and all three parties are putting their might to win the 4th seat despite shortage of votes. Political heavyweights like Union Finance Minister Niramala Sitharaman, Congress’ Jairam Ramesh are in the fray.
The BJP has fielded three candidates, and the Congress two. A candidate requires 45 MLAs to sail through.
The ruling BJP enjoys the support of 122 MLAs (including one BSP MLA and an Independent) and it can easily win two seats. The opposition Congress, however, with the support of 70 MLAs (including an Independent) can win only one seat.
The JD(S) with 32 MLAs will need the support of national parties to ensure the win of its Rajya Sabha candidate Kupendra Reddy, the richest candidate in the fray.
Given the scenario, cross voting has become inevitable to ensure the victory of the third candidate of the BJP, second candidate of the Congress and the only candidate of the JD(S). It is a challenge for the JD(S) to prevent its MLAs from cross voting.
Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy earlier voiced his anger against 4 JD(S) MLAs who questioned the leadership of the party. However, Kumaraswamy is now maintaining that he is confident that all JD(S) MLAs will support the party candidate. JD(S) with 32 MLAs has emerged as the closest rival to the BJP for the 4th seat.
Kupendra Reddy, the JD(S) Rajya Sabha candidate has already started meeting the party legislators personally. Kumaraswamy has curtailed his foreign trip and rushed to the state after BJP fielded its third candidate and Congress its second candidate.
The Congress party will have 25 surplus votes but 20 short of winning another Rajya Sabha seat for its candidate Mansoor Ali Khan. The sources in the party say that they are hopeful of their second candidate’s win through second preferential votes and cross-voting by MLAs.
The BJP will have 32 surplus votes after ensuring the win of two of its candidates. BJP’s third candidate is Leher Singh Siroya. Former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said that he will do all he can to get the third BJP candidate elected to the Rajya Sabha.
The BJP has put Union Tourism Minister G. Kishan Reddy to oversee the polls and made him in-charge. The BJP is organising training for MLAs to ensure that all votes polled are valid.