Rajya Sabha voting begins

Bengaluru:  The biennial Rajya Sabha elections for 16 States covering 58 seats of the 245-member House began this morning. Karnataka has four seats and voting for those began at the Assembly.

While the ruling Congress is confident of getting all its three candidates elected, the BJP is confident of shoring up its numbers in the Rajya Sabha, but two seats — in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka — have emerged as the prestige battles for the party.

Voting is being held for seats that will fall vacant this April. However, 33 candidates have already been elected unopposed.

Overall, the BJP is in a comfortable position with 15 Chief Ministers and coalitions in 21 States. The party plans to make full use of its overwhelming numbers in the polls.

In Karnataka, five candidates — L. Hanumanthaiah, Naseer Hussain and G.C. Chandrashekar of the Congress, Rajeev Chandrasekhar of the BJP, and B.M. Farook of the JD(S) — are contesting for the four seats.

Speaker K.B. Koliwad informed the High Court of Karnataka yesterday that he needs some more time to decide on the issue of disqualification of seven rebel Janata Dal (Secular) legislators – B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan (Chamarajpet), Iqbal Ansari (Gangavati), Bommanayak (Hagaribommanahalli), Akhanda Srinivas Murthy (Pulikeshinagar), H.C. Balakrishna (Magadi), Cheluvarayaswamy (Nagamangala) and Rameshbabu Bandisiddegowda (Srirangapatna).

Though the rebel MLAs have heaved a sigh of relief over the Speaker’s order, there is seeming tension among Congress and JD(S) candidates fighting for the fourth seat — G.C. Chandrashekar and B.M. Farook, respectively, over the possibility of cross-voting. To keep their flock together, all the three political parties have issued whip to their MLAs. Each candidate has to get 44.4% of the first priority votes to get elected.

With the entry of Ashok Kheni into its fold, strength of the Congress in the Assembly has gone up to 123. The BJP has 43 legislators and the JD(S) has 37 including the rebels. There are 3 BSR Congress candidates, 2 Karnataka Janata Party legislators, 8 independents, one vote for Speaker and 7 vacancies in the 224-member Assembly.

As the elections began at 9 am, the JD(S) has accused the Returning Officer in Karnataka Assembly of favouring the Congress. JD(S) leaders H.D. Revanna, B.M. Farooq and Rameshbabu Bandisiddegowda alleged that Returning Officer S. Murthy is favouring the Congress. There was an exchange of words between the JD(S) leaders and the Returning Officer. “BJP candidate Rajeev Chandrasekhar will get at least 50 votes. He will win with a majority. I congratulate all MLAs voting for him,” Bharatiya Janata Party’s State President B.S. Yeddyurappa said.  

A winning candidate needs to win 44 votes. Voting will conclude at 4 pm following which counting will take place. The results are expected after 5 pm.

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