Hectic lobbying in Congress, JD(S) for RS poll tickets

Hectic lobbying in Congress, JD(S) for RS poll tickets

Prominent businessmen, moneybags among aspirants

Businessmen and moneybags aspiring to become members of the Upper House of Parliament are lobbying hard in the Congress and the JD(S) ahead of the biennial elections scheduled for June 11.

Of the elections to the four seats, the ruling Congress will be able to win three seats on its own, while the BJP can win one for itself. Businessmen are seeing an opportunity to bag a seat in case the JD(S) decides not to field its own candidate. The Deve Gowda-led party has supported businessmen in the Rajya Sabha polls since 2004.

Prominent among the businessmen exploring the possibility of entering Rajya Sabha are Chenna Reddy, a contractor; B M Farooq, a businessman; Kamal M Morarka, Director of Gannon Dunkerley & Co Ltd; A C Shanmugam, Chairman of Rajarajeshwari Medical College; K Prakash Shetty, CMD of Gold Finch. Reddy is a long-time friend of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. He is a Congress member and has submitted an application to the party urging it to field him as a candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls.

Sources in the Congress said Siddaramaiah was planning to seek the party high command’s permission to field Reddy as the third candidate. He was planning to ensure his victory with the help his ‘friends’ in the JD(S) and independent MLAs. The MLAs are the voters in this election. A candidate needs to secure a minimum of 44 votes to win the polls. The Congress will have about 33 excess votes left after ensuring the victory of two of its candidates.

Siddaramaiah and State Congress president G Parameshwara are likely to visit Delhi on May 26 to hold a meeting with the high command on finalising the candidates. The party is likely to field Oscar Fernandes as the first candidate. Many senior leaders, both from Karnataka and outside, are vying with each other to become the second candidate. P Chidambaram, Narayanaswamy and Jairam Ramesh are among the former Union ministers aspiring for the seat.

The party leaders are also making efforts to enter into an understanding with the JD(S) for winning the third RS seat. The Congress may, in turn, help the JD(S) win a Karnataka Council seat scheduled for June 10. The JD(S) has 40 MLAs. That’s the reason businessmen, including Farooq, Morarka, Shanmugam and Shetty, are queuing up seeking the party’s support. Farooq, who is a brother of Congress MLA Mohiuddin Bava, is the frontrunner after the businessmen seeking the JD(S) support. He has already garnered the support of nearly a dozen MLAs – independents and other small parties. Farooq is also the president of Bearys’ Welfare Association, Bengaluru, sources in the JD(S) said.

The JD(S) is not confident of fielding its own candidate as many of its MLAs are not on good terms with the party leadership. They have been hobnobbing with the Congress and have even developed a good rapport with Siddaramaiah. The BJP, sources in the party said, is likely to field Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu as its candidate.
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