Three Congress candidates, including former Union ministers Jairam Ramesh and Oscar Fernandes, today filed their nominations for the biennial elections to fill four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka.
Former IPS officer K C Ramamurthy (Congress) and B M Farooq (JDS) also filed their papers for the June 11 election.
Karnataka Industries Minister R V Deshpande, Opposition Leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Home Minister G Parameshwara accompanied the Congress candidates.
The Congress’ decision to field third candidate, Ramamurthy, has given tense moments to JDS, which needs five additional votes to see its candidate through.
JDS has 40 members in the Assembly and needs the support of five more to win the seat, but to the party’s discomfiture five MLAs, including Zameer Ahmed, have reportedly decided to back the third candidate of the Congress.
Reacting to it, State JDS President H D Kumaraswamy rubbished reports of Zameer Ahmed’s claim of five JDS MLAs supporting Congress’ third candidate.
“All the MLAs except Zameer Ahmed are with the party and will not be backing the third candidate of the Congress. The party is contemplating action against Zameer.”
The Congress has 122 MLAs and needs extra 13 votes to ensure the victory of its third candidate and hence Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is trying to seek the support of the eleven independents and five JDS rebel legislators.
Kumaraswamy said the JDS was also in touch with independents besides BJP leaders, to get the required numbers.
“We are in touch with the independents and also BJP. I have spoken to BJP leader R Ashok and I am expecting support from them because we had supported the BJP in the last Council election,” he said.
The numbers game has triggered speculations of horse- trading and selling of seats to businessmen.
Replying to the charges made by Siddaramaiah against JDS, Kumaraswamy alleged that the Chief Minister was into horse- trading and not JDS leaders.
Kumaraswamy also charged Siddaramaiah with trying to split the party by offering big money to MLAs to defect.
“Instead, it is Siddaramaiah who is splitting our party. …He is actually into horse-trading,” he alleged.
Kumaraswamy said JDS was confident of Farooq’s victory as in the past an official Congress candidate had lost due to cross-voting.
Asked if the JDS-Congress tieup in the city civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) would get affected after Congress fielded its third candidate and hoping to win it with the help of JDS rebel MLAs, Kumaraswamy said,”I have told the AICC that any attempt to split JDS will force us to withdraw our support to Congress in BBMP.”
Nirmala Sitharaman, who is the official candidate of BJP for the Rajya Sabha seat, will file her nomination tomorrow.
Amid mounting public pressure including protests by Kannada groups against renomination of Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu from Karnataka, the BJP Central Election Committee decided to field Sitharaman in his place.
A social media campaign was launched against Naidu’s nomination on the ground that he had not done enough for Karnataka from where he secured three Rajya Sabha terms.
Naidu will be contesting from Rajasthan.