Karnataka Congress on Monday fielded a second candidate for the June 10 Rajya Sabha polls, forcing an election for a seat it does not have enough numbers to win, putting the BJP and JD(S) in a spot.
The Congress has fielded former union minister Jairam Ramesh and Karnataka Congress general secretary Mansoor Ali Khan as its candidates for the Rajya Sabha elections.
Four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka are up for grabs and a candidate needs 45 votes to win. Based on their strength in the Legislative Assembly, the BJP can win two seats and the Congress one. Elections are needed as incumbent MPs Nirmala Sitharaman (union finance minister), KC Ramamurthy (BJP) and Jairam Ramesh (Congress) are due for retirement. Also, the death of senior Congress leader Oscar Fernandes vacated his seat.
The BJP has picked Sitharaman and actor-politician Jaggesh as its candidates for the two seats it can surely win.
The Congress’ move to field a second candidate could put the JD(S) in a quandary amid speculation that the regional party wants to field its former MP Kupendra Reddy as a candidate by using additional votes of the BJP.
Both Ramesh and Khan filed their nomination papers in the presence of senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Siddaramaiah, DK Shivakumar, UT Khader, RV Deshpande, HK Patil and others.
“We have our own calculations,” Shivakumar, the KPCC president, told reporters on fielding Khan as the party’s second candidate. “We know that all the three parties have a shortage of votes. Last time, out of respect, we did not field a candidate against former prime minister HD Deve Gowda,” he said, hinting that the Congress’ move is aimed at checkmating the regional party.
After electing two Rajya Sabha candidates, the BJP will be left with an additional 29 votes. The Congress will be left with 24 extra votes after electing Ramesh. The JD(S) has only 32 votes, which is insufficient to win a seat.
According to sources, Congress’s plan is to see how the JD(S) will respond. If the regional party takes the BJP’s support, then Congress will attack the secular credentials of the JD(S).
“If they are truly secular, then let them vote for a young, educated Muslim candidate,” KPCC working president Saleem Ahmed said, adding that the Congress has not yet had talks with the JD(S).