Uber rich story of Upper House polls

The Upper House, both in parliament and the State legislature, has almost become synonymous with the House of super rich as far as elections in Karnataka are concerned.

All three major parties – Congress, BJP and JD(S) – have been either fielding moneybags as their candidates or backing them indirectly in the elections.

The coming elections to Legislative Council and Rajya Sabha from the State are no different.

The BJP renominated Belgaum-based businessman Prabhakar Kore, while JD(S) fielded Bangalore-based realtor Kupendra Reddy. The ruling Congress, which is yet to decide its candidates, is said to have shortlisted among others Mysore-based realtor Chenna Reddy for the Rajya Sabha polls.

Of the four vacancies, the Congress can win at least two, the BJP one and JD(S) can win one if it can mobilise five more votes. The MLAs are the voters in these polls and a candidate has to secure at least 45 votes to get elected. In most cases, cash-rich businessmen, who have the urge to become Upper House members, try to garner excess votes from political parties and with the support of Independent MLAs by using their ‘influence’.

Karnataka has seen several cash-rich businessmen getting elected to the Upper House in the recent past. Vijay Mallya got himself elected to Rajya Sabha in 2002 and in 2010, with the help of BJP and JD(S). Similarly, M A M Ramaswamy, an industrialist from Tamil Nadu and co-founder of Chettinad Group of Companies, got elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2004 as the JD(S) candidate.

Anil Lad, a mine owner from Bellary, got himself elected to Rajya Sabha as the Congress candidate soon after he faced defeat in the 2008 Assembly elections from Bellary City. Similarly, Kore, who runs a chain of educational institutions in Belgaum, has been representing the State in the Rajya Sabha. Rajiv Chandrashekar, who represents Rajya Sabha from Karnataka as an Independent, is also an industrialist and owner of Asianet Group, a media company.

For the seven Council seats, BJP and JD(S) have decided to back Independent candidate D U Mallikarjun, who is into real estate. A candidate requires a minimum of 25 votes to become an MLC. The Congress, with its strength, can win at least four seats and the BJP and JD(S) one each. The BJP and JD(S) have pledged their surplus votes to super-rich candidate Mallikarjun.

Like Rajya Sabha, the Council has also seen a number of members who are businessmen. The then mining magnate G Janardhana Reddy, who is now lodged in jail on charges of illegal mining, got himself elected to the Council from the BJP in 2006 and went on to become a minister and eventually controlled the Yeddyurappa-led BJP government. PES Group chairman M R Doreswamy had been nominated to the Council. Similarly, M R Seetharam, vice-chairman of M S Ramaiah Institute of Technology, is currently a Congress MLC. He has been with the Congress for long.

The election of realtor Byrathi Suresh to the Council in 2012 as an Independent candidate sums up the clout moneybags have in politics: He ensured that some of the Congress MLAs cross voted in his favour, while the official party candidate Iqbal Ahmed Saradagi got defeated.

It is said the Congress may face a similar situation in the coming elections, if the ruling party fields a third candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections.

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