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Rajya Sabha elections: Congress wins three seats, BJP bags one in Karnataka

Those who were elected to the Upper House are Ajay Maken, G C Chandrasekhar and Syed Naseer Hussain, all belonging to the Congress, and Narayansa K Bhandage of the BJP.
Last Updated 27 February 2024, 13:26 IST

Bengaluru: The ruling Congress in Karnataka won three seats and the BJP one in the Rajya Sabha elections in Karnataka on Tuesday, which were marred by cross-voting in a setback to the saffron party.

Ajay Maken, G C Chandrasekhar and Syed Naseer Hussain, all from the Congress, and Narayansa K Bhandage (BJP) got elected to the Upper House in the polls in which elected MLAs were the voters.

Five candidates, including D Kupendra Reddy of the JD(S) who lost the election, were in the fray for the four seats. BJP MLA S T Somashekar voted for Maken, while another party legislator A Shivaram Hebbar abstained.

The BJP said it was exploring the possibility of taking legal action them and lodging a complaint with the Speaker U T Khader seeking their disqualification from the assembly for violating the whip issued to them to vote in favour of the party candidate.

"We have got the information that Somashekar has done cross-voting. I consulted with advocate Vivek Reddy who is our state legal cell president and a high court lawyer. We will ask the Speaker to initiate action (of disqualification) against him (Somashekar) and explore the possibilities to take steps in accordance with the law," Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly R Ashoka said.

Somashekar had earlier quit the Congress and joined the BJP. He served as a minister in the previous BJP government and was made the Mysuru district in-charge minister back then. He and Hebbar had in fact distanced themselves from the BJP in recent months, and increasingly began identifying with the Congress.

The BJP (66 MLAs) and the JD(S) (19 MLAs) combined had fielded Kupendra Reddy though they did not have the requisite votes to get him elected. The NDA partners said they were expecting "conscience votes", apparently from the rival Congress camp, in favour of Reddy.

The Congress has 134 members in the assembly. There are also four others members, including two independents.

Somashekar said he heard the "voice of his conscience" and voted in favour of the Congress, "which built schools and carried out developmental works in his constituency". Hebbar too abstained from voting adhering to his conscience, he said.

"This is not 'atma sakshi' (conscience) but 'atma droha' (self betrayal),” BJP MLC N Ravi Kumar commented, reacting to the cross-voting and abstention.

Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar, who is also the state Congress chief, ridiculed the BJP and the JD(S) saying, "'Conscience vote seekers' have become 'conscience vote givers'."

"I don't know about cross-voting. I haven't seen the votes of others and independents. Ask the BJP, who spoke about conscience votes," Shivakumar quipped.

Asked if there is legal support for those who have cast conscience votes to Congress candidates, he said, "Let's talk about it when it happens. I am not aware of any complaint filed with the Speaker regarding cross-voting. Somashekar has cast his vote as per his conscience. It's a vote against the unholy BJP-JD(S) alliance. The general public, graduates, and teachers have rejected the alliance. Let's see what the legislators think."

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah hit out at the JD(S), alleging that the party sought to lure and threaten its MLAs.

“JDS needs 45 votes (for their candidate) to win. Do they have that many votes? Even though they don’t have enough votes, they still fielded the candidate and are luring our MLAs. Do they have a conscience?” the Chief Minister asked.

“An FIR has been lodged regarding the threat to us,” Siddaramaiah said.

Speaking to reporters here, Siddaramaiah lashed out at the JD(S), saying, “When JD(S) does not have 'atma' (soul), how can it have 'atma sakshi' (conscience)? They call themselves Janata Dal (Secular) but whom did they join with?”

He was referring to the JD(S) forming an alliance with the BJP.

Former chief minister and JD(S) second-in-command H D Kumaraswamy said the FIR against Kupendra Reddy and his aides was registered at Vidhana Soudha police station. Kumaraswamy said the complainant MLA did not say that he was lured, but that some other MLAs were "approached".

"Melukote MLA Darshan Puttannaiah of Karnataka Sarvodaya Paksha too had said that it’s true that his vote was sought but no one had lured him,” the JD(S) state chief claimed.

Kumaraswamy also said the BJP and JD(S) had decided to field Kupendra Reddy on the basis of the votes of the 19 JD(S) MLAs and the additional BJP votes after its first preferential votes.

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(Published 27 February 2024, 13:26 IST)

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