News Karnataka
Wednesday, April 17 2024

Hectic lobbying for Rajya Sabha tickets in BJP’s Karnataka unit

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Bengaluru: With hectic lobbying underway amid simmering differences, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faces an uphill task in selecting nominees for the June 19 Rajya Sabha biennial elections in Karnataka where four seats fell vacant due to the expiry of the post holders’ six-year term.

“Though many from within and outside the party are vying for the tickets to contest the Rajya Sabha polls, the high command will decide from the names the state core committee recommends in a day or two,” state BJP unit spokesman G. Madhusudhana told IANS here.

With the term of the four members, including two from the Congress (B.K. Hariprasad and Rajeev Gowda) and one each from the BJP (Prabhakar Kore) and Janata Dal-Secular (Kupendra Reddy) ending on June 25, the Election Commission on June 1 notified that the bypolls in the southern state would be held on June 19, with the last date for filing nominations on June 9. The results will be declared on June 19 itself.

As the BJP has 117 legislators in the 223-member state legislative assembly, two of its candidates will get elected comfortably, as each requires 45 votes to win in the event of a contest from the opposition Congress and JD(S).

With 68 lawmakers, the Congress will also win one seat comfortably and will have 23 surplus votes two contest a second seat if the JD(S), which has 34 MLAs, extends support, though there is no love lost between the two after their 14-month coalition government collapsed on July 23, 2019 following a revolt by rebels in both the parties.

“We may even contest for the third seat, as we will have 27 surplus votes after securing the victory of our two candidates though we will require an additional 18 votes to win it,” hinted Madhusudhana.

Admitting that the party has the problem of plenty to choose from, with names of outsiders like eminent banker K.V. Kamath and Infosys Foundation chairperson Sudha Murthy doing the rounds, the official said the party’s General Secretary P. Muralidhar Rao was a strong contender as he has been in-charge of the BJP’s state unit for long although he belongs to Andhra Pradesh.

“Though two-time RS member Prabhakar Kore is keen on a third term, Ramesh Katti, younger brother of eight-time MLA Umesh Katti, is also lobbying for the ticket. As both are from north Karnataka and are Lingayats, only one among them may be considered,” said Mudhusudhana.

Tejaswini Ananth Kumar, widow of former Union Minister H.N. Ananth Kumar from the state, who passed away in Bengaluru in November 2018, is another contender for the nomination, as she could not contest from the high-profile Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency in the May 2019 general elections from where the party’s young firebrand Tejasvi Surya was fielded and won.

Of the 12 Rayja Sabha seats in the southern state, the BJP has three members — Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, industrialist Rajeev Chandrashekhar and noted educationist K.C. Ramamurthy, who defected from the Congress and got re-elected unopposed on December 5, 2019 as a BJP nominee.

The opposition Congress has five members in the Upper House from the state — Oscar Fernandes, Jairam Ramesh, Syed Naseer Hussain, L. Hanumanthaiah and G.C. Chandrashekar.

In the Congress, former Union Minister Mallikarjun Kharge is said to be the frontrunner though Hariprasad is eyeing for another term.

Kharge and Hariprasad lost in the May 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Gulabarga (reserved) and Bangalore South constituencies, respectively, to the BJP.

“The party’s high command will decide the candidate in consultation with the state unit leadership under D.K. Shivakumar. As we will have 23 more votes, we may field one more candidate if the JD(S) agrees to support,” a Congress official told IANS.

With only 34 MLAs, the JD(S) is in dilemma to enter the fray as it is 11 short of the minimum votes mark (45) to retain the seat its member Kupendra is vacating.

“The Congress is open to transfer its surplus votes to the JD(S) if our supremo and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda contests to enter the Elders’ House,” a JD(S) source told IANS.

Gowda, 87, lost in the May 2019 general elections from Tumkur to the BJP, though his grandson Prajwal Gowda won from the JD(S) bastion Hassan, defeating A. Manju of the BJP.

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