In a loss of face, eight JD(S) MLAs, defying the party whip, today voted against its official candidate and supported Congress in the biennial elections to fill four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka.
“8 MLA’s have voted against JD-S in today’s Rajya Sabha election in favour of Congress. Tomorrow in the party’s meeting, we are going to take action against them according to provisions of the party constitution,” JD-S spokesman Ramesh Babu said.
The rebel MLAs who cross-voted are Zameer Ahmed Khan, Chaluvaraya Swamy, Iqbal Ansari, Balakrishna, Ramesh Bandisiddegowda, Gopalaiah, Bheema Nayak and Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, Babu said, admitting the loss much before polls ended.
Dissidence-hit JD(S) had fielded businessman B M Farooq as its candidate.
Calling rebels “cancer” for the party, JD-S leader and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said “we should have found medicine for it. It is already late. We will have to find a solution to it before it goes to final stage.”
Speaking to reporters after casting their votes, the rebel MLAs held that the “attitude” of party leaders- H D Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy, was the reason for their decision.
Chaluvaraya Swamy said “8 of us have voted against the whip. We have shown it to our party agent. Our candidate was fielded without taking us into confidence, with a plan of taking Independent’s support,” he added.
Citing a similar reason for the decision, another rebel MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan said “if they had to field a minority candidate, there were leaders in our own party. Why did they have to bring someone from outside? We had leaders like Danish Ali within party serving it for years.”
Rajya Sabha polls have an open ballot system where voter has to show the ballot paper to the official agent of the party and cast the vote.
Eight members voting against the party has come as a shock to JD-S as only five rebel MLAs under the leadership of Zameer Ahmed Khan were expected to indulge in crossvoting.
Congress’ decision to field the third candidate, former IPS officer K C Ramamurthy, had been giving tense moments to JD(S) which needed five additional votes to see its candidate through as it has 40 members.
45 votes are needed for victory.
Congress with 122 members is assured of two seats for former Union Ministers Jairam Ramesh and Oscar Fernandes but with a surplus of 33 votes, it fielded the third candidate.
Rebel JD(S) MLAs had also indulged in cross-voting during the biennial elections to fill seven seats of the Karnataka Legislative Council from Legislative assembly held yesterday.
Union Minister Nirmala Seetharaman is also in the fray.
Meanwhile, JD(S) official poll agent H D Revanna has written to the Returning officer, alleging irregularities by ruling Congress by using government machinery and demanded cancellation of the election and a CBI inquiry.
“As per rules no minister or official can misuse the polling centre but in today’s election two Ministers D K Shivakumar (Power) and A Manju (Animal Husbandry) have repeatedly visited the polling centre between 11 AM and 3 PM and pressurised MLAs to vote for the candidate they suggested,” the letter charged.
He also alleged that by creating medical documents, they had made provisions for a third person to vote on behalf of MLAs Ramakrishna and Rudresh Gowda (both from Congress).
“According to rule 40, a healthy voter cannot vote like this,” he added.
The polling centre witnessed some chaos as Revanna objected to MLC Govindaraju accompanying MLA Ramakrishna to vote, citing that the latter was unwell.
Heated exchanges broke out and got personal as minister Shivakumar entered the polling centre justifying Govindraju assisting Ramakrishna.
Revanna also wanted to know how Shivakumar, who was not a Congress agent, was allowed inside the polling centre.
Intervening, election officials ensured normalcy and conducted further election proceedings.
Revanna in his letter, naming all 8 JD-S rebel MLAs, said “Shivakumar who had brought JD-S MLAs to vote is responsible for them voting in favour of Congress.”
He said “polling was irregular and was against election rules. All irregularities committed have been captured by CCTV cameras installed to conduct free and fair polls. So action should be taken about these irregularities.”
“We demand cancellation of election and CBI inquiry,” he added.
D K Shivakumar is a known bete noire of JD(S) leaders H D Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy and family.