It's a Kannadiga vs the 'outsider'

Oppn candidate Marulasiddappa insists that his candidature is not symbolic

With the members of the Legislative Assembly forming the electoral college of Rajya Sabha elections, a total of 104 votes are required to win the poll in the 205-member House. The ruling BJP has 105 BJP members excluding the Speaker, while the combined Opposition has 98. Still, the Congress and the JD (S) decided to field an Independent candidate, obviously to make a political statement.

The Opposition is trying to cash in on the ‘outsider vs Kannadiga’ issue raised after the BJP’s choice of a person not resident in the State.

Also, the Opposition strategically fielded a Lingayat to drive home a message that they have not ignored the major community. The BJP has been enjoying the support of Lingayats. Hema Malini is a Brahmin.

Besides, if disqualification of the 11 BJP MLAs were quashed before March 3, on the day of polling, the Opposition would have a chance to win.

The mode of voting is open ballot, except for the Speaker. Assuming that the 11 disqualified MLAs win the court battle to return to the Assembly, they will have two choices - either violate the party whip, or follow the whip. If they violate the whip, then the party may yet again recommend their disqualification. The Speaker has the voting right in RS polls, while the lone nominated MLA does not have.

Scrutiny of the nomination papers is on Tuesday and the last date for withdrawal of papers is February 24.

Speaking to reporters, Hema Malini said she would take special interest in developing the State’s cultural assets and also Ramanagara (where her all time mega hit Sholay was shot).

Marulasiddappa said he has been urged to contest by well-wishers, friends, the Congress and the JD(S). He said his candidature was not symbolic. “I have contested in the spirit of democracy,” Marulasiddappa said.

JD(S) Spokesperson Y S V Datta said: “winning or losing the election is immaterial. It is a question of justice to people of Karnataka in general and artists in particular. By fielding Hema Malini, the ruling BJP has humiliated local artists.”

Two other candidates - Harischandra Gowda and Dr K Padmarajan have also filed their nomination papers. But their papers are likely to rejected be due to the absence of 10 proposers, a mandatory requirement.

A senior citizen created a stir at the office of the Returning Officer, S B Patil by insisting that his nomination papers be accepted. Patil had rejected his papers as the person had arrived beyond the 3 pm deadline.

The by-election was necessitated following the death of former Union Minister M Rajasekhara Murthy.The winning candidate’s term would end on April 2, next year.

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