Ex-Speakers Meira, Patil want to enter RS poll fray from state

Ex-Speakers Meira, Patil want to enter RS poll fray from state

Ex-Speakers Meira, Patil want to enter RS poll fray from state

Some of the Congress bighwigs such as former Lok Sabha Speakers Shivraj Patil and Meira Kumar are said to be aspiring to contest the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections from Karnataka.

Sources in the party said Patil met AICC president Rahul Gandhi during his recent visit to Basavakalyan in Bidar district and expressed his willingness to contest the polls. Meira Kumar, who took part in foundation stone laying function of Babu Jagjivan Ram study centre in Bengaluru last week, held talks with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in this regard.

The ruling Congress, which has 123 MLAs, can comfortably win two of the four seats in the elections scheduled to be held March 23. The party is confident of winning a third seat with the help rebel MLAs in the JD(S) and Independents. A candidate needs approximately 45 votes to emerge victorious. MLAs are the voters in this elections.

The sources said the party is planning to field a leader from the influential Linyagat community, which it has been trying to woo ahead of the Assembly elections. Patil, also a former Union Home Minister, belongs to the Lingayat community. He is from Lathur in Maharashtra bordering Karnataka.

Meira Kumar, a former Union minister who hails from Bihar, is daughter of Dalit leader the late Babu Jagjivan Ram. She belongs to Dalit left wing. The party may try to woo the community, which is seeing red at the state government for not providing internal reservation as per Justice A J Sadashiva Commission recommendations, the sources pointed out

Besides, senior Congress leaders from the state such as former minister Shamanur Shivashankarappa, KPCC working president S R Patil, former chairman of the Legislative Council Veeranna Mattikatti, former minister Rani Satish and former MLC Allamma Prabhu Patil (all Lingayats) are also in the race.

Siddaramaiah is said to be eager on fielding Shivashankarappa with an aim of placating him on the issue of separate religion tag for Lingayat/Veerashiva faiths. Shivashankarappa, who is president of Akhila Bharataha Veerashaiva Mahasabha, is opposing the move to declare Lingayat a separate religion.

The sources said the party may field a leader from Muslim community in the polls to the Upper House of Parliament. Senior leader and former Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha K Rahman Khan, whose term in the Rajya Sabha will end on April 2, is seeking re-nomination for the fifth term. Urban Development Minister R Roshan Baig and former MLC Saleem Ahmed are also said to be in the race.

Besides, AICC spokesperson Brijesh Kalappa, Mysuru-based businessman and Siddaramaiah's close confidant Chenna Reddy, KPCC president G Parameshwara's close follower Nagaraj Chebby and former MLC U B Venkatesh are also vying with each other to be the Congress candidate.