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Five in fray for four RS seats from Karnataka

Bengaluru : Five candidates, including three from the ruling Congress and one each from the BJP and JD-S, are in fray for four seats in the biennial election to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka on June 11.

“As all five candidates, whose nominations were found valid during scrutiny on June 1, are contesting for the four RS seats from the state, election will be held on June 11 as scheduled,” Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer A.K. Jha told IANS here on Friday.

After the State Election Commission rejected the nomination of independent candidate K.A. Mohan in the absence of required supporters on June 1, none of the five nominees of the mainstream political parties withdrew from the contest on Friday, which was the last day for withdrawal.

“As there is no directive from the Chief Election Commission so far on postponing or cancelling the election, polling will be held as scheduled on next Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and counting will be from 5 p.m., at the Vidhana Soudha in the city,” Jha said.

The candidates are Oscar Fernandes, Jairam Ramesh and K.C. Ramamurthy from Congress, Nirmala Sitharaman from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and B.M. Farook from Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).

Each candidate requires 45 votes to be elected to the upper house of Parliament from the southern state.

In the 225-member legislative assembly, which is the electoral college for the RS election, the ruling party (Congress) has 123 members, BJP 44, JD-S 40, independents 9, BSR-C 3, KJP 2, SKP 1, KMP 1, speaker 1 and nominated 1.

As Congress has 123 lawmakers, election of the two former central ministers (Fernandes and Ramesh) is certain, while its third nominee (Ramamurthy) will need 12 more votes, as the party will have only 33 surplus votes for him.

Similarly, with BJP’s 44 votes, Sitharaman is expected to sail through with one more vote from any one lawmaker of its regional allies BSR-C and KJP, which have five members in the lower house.

Farook, however, needs five more votes to win as his party (JD-S) has only 40 lawmakers in the house.

With more than five JD-S ‘rebel’ lawmakers, including Zameer Ahmed and N. Cheluvaraswamy threatening to vote for the Congress’ third candidate (Ramamurthy), Farook will find the going tough to reach the magical 45 figure.

Though all the three parties will be issuing a whip to its lawmakers to vote for their respective candidates, there are fears of cross-voting in the secret ballot exercise by some lawmakers of Congress and JD-S.

Jha also declined to comment on speculation in the local media that the election could be postponed or cancelled in light of sting operations by two national news channels on Thursday, showing the Congress and JD-S luring the independents to vote for Ramamurthy or Farook, promising them ‘crores of rupees’ for the development of their constituencies or with plum posts.