Karnataka Rajya Sabha polls: Congress bags all 3 seats, BJP gets one

Bengaluru: The Congress has bagged all the three Rajya Sabha seats it contested while the BJP has won one, amid high drama and unprecedented poll boycott by JD(S), on Friday.

Congress candidates GC Chandrashekar, L Hanumanathaiah and Syed Naseer Hussain and BJP nominee Rajeev Chandrashekar were elected to Rajya Sabha.

The JD(S) had fielded a lone candidate, but boycotted the poll after two Congress

MLAs were given a second chance to vote. The two members of the ruling party voted again after they had committed technical errors in the ballot paper.

Counting of the 185 votes — a total 217 turned up to vote — began around 7:45 pm after clearance from the Election Commission.

The two Congress votes which were at the heart of the dispute were set aside. The 185 votes included the two from JD(S) members who had exercised their franchise before the ruckus erupted.

BJP’s candidate and sitting MP, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who joined the party on the day of filing his nomination papers, polled 50 votes.

The drama began around 10:30am when the JD(S) raised objections to revenue minister Kagodu Thimappa and Congress MLA from Gurmitkal, Baburao Chinchansur, who had made errors in the ballot papers, being given a second chance to vote. No sooner did Thimappa seek a replacement ballot paper than JD(S) polling agent HD Revanna raised objection.

According to reports, Thimappa, while marking his preference, wrongly ticked the box and also used Roman numerals instead of the acceptable Arabic numbers 1 and 2 as his preferred choice of candidates. Chinchansur on the other hand smudged ink on his ballot paper.

This prompted JD(S) state president, HD Kumaraswamy, and 30 of his party MLAs to enter the polling station and stage a dharna.

Polling was suspended for some time after JD(S) raised slogans and blocked passage to the booth. Later, the party submitted a memorandum to chief election officer (CEO) Sanjiv Kumar, seeking countermanding of the elections due to “gross violations” by S Murthy, the returning officer and assembly secretary.

After the JD(S) had filed a formal complaint with Kumar, the assembly secretary was replaced by undersecretary H Kumaraswamy, midway through the process. The remainder of the election process was conducted with the undersecretary in charge.

Meanwhile, five of the seven rebel JD(S) candidates, who are scheduled to join the Congress on March 25, cast their ballot. “We voted and showed our ballot to the JD(S) polling agent to leave no doubt as to who we voted for,” said Nagamangala MLA N Cheluvarayaswamy and Chamarajpet MLA BZ Zameer Ahmad Khan.

Counting delay

Though the voting ended at 4 pm, there was a delay of more than three hours before the counting of votes began. Following the complaint by JD(S), the Election Commission of India (ECI) officials were awaiting instructions from Delhi.

As soon as the response was received, which directed officials to segregate the votes of Thimmappa and Chinchanasur, counting began at about 7:15 pm.

Votes polled

Though 188 votes were cast, only 184 votes were counted, two were invalidated and two were set aside. All the four votes were of Thimmappa and Chinchanasur – two were rejected and two were segregated ballots due to the violations spotted by JD(S) leaders.

The number of eligible voters, however, was 217 of which 30 were JD(S) legislators.

Of these 30, only two cast their votes. Among Congress members, one MLA from Belur, Rudresh Gowda could not cast his vote.

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