Campaigning for key Karnataka legislative council polls ends


Bangalore: Public campaigning ended Wednesday for the Dec 18 polls to 23 Karnataka legislative council seats amid opposition allegations that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had “hijacked” several voters.

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Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), which have formed an alliance for the polls, have claimed that scores of voters from the iron-ore rich Bellary district, 400 km from here, have been “kidnapped” and were being entertained in posh resorts to win their votes.

Mining barons Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy and his elder brother Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy, who recently led a revolt against Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, belong to Bellary.

The voters in the biennial polls are members of local bodies – gram, taluk, zilla panchayats, town municipal councils, city corporations – and state legislators and parliament members.

Several members of local bodies in Bellary were found in luxury hotels and resorts in Dharwad, around 420 km from here, on Dec 13 and some of them told the media that they were sent there by Reddy brothers’ associate and Health Minister B. Sriramulu.

The Reddy brothers and Sriramulu have denied the claims and allegations.

Yeddyurappa also has played down the incident saying these members might have gone to Dharwad on their own.

Over 95,000 members of local authorities, legislators and parliament members form the electoral college to choose the 23 members from a field of over 90 candidates, majority of them independents.

The polls will determine whether the BJP gains majority in the 75-member upper house of the state legislature.

Congress and Janata Dal-Secular have formed the alliance in a bid to prevent the ruling party from wresting control of the council.

Of the 75 members in the council, 25 are elected by members of the assembly, 25 by local authorities and seven each by graduates and teachers. The remaining 11 are nominated.

Elections are held biennially as under statutory provisions one third of the members retire every two years.

Voting will take place only for 23 seats as two candidates, one each from Congress and BJP, have been elected unopposed.

Congress held 19 of these 25 seats and is contesting all of them. BJP held four, JDS one and one seat was vacant.

The Congress has fielded candidates for the 19 seats while the JD-S is contesting eight seats with a ‘friendly fight’ between the two parties for two seats.

At present, the Congress and the BJP have 28 seats each and the JD-S 12. Of the remaining seven, one is chairman of the council, Janata Dal-United has one and Independents three. Two seats from the legislative assembly quota are vacant.

Yeddyurappa and other BJP leaders are confident of winning at least 15 seats.

If that comes true Dec 21 when the vote count is held, BJP will gain majority in the council, more than a year and half after it came to power for the first time in Karnataka and south India.

Congress is banking on its alliance with JD-S to help it retain all the 19 seats it held. That, Congress leaders concede in private, was unlikely.

Their best hope, they acknowledge, is that the alliance partners will together win majority of the seats to deprive BJP control of the council.