It is to prove that he has considerable clout with legislators: sources

The biennial elections to four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka, scheduled to be held later this month, is another event that is expected to bring to the fore the growing rift within the Bharatiya Janata Party .

The former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa is expected to put a spanner in the works much to the displeasure of the BJP high command. Sources in the BJP told The Hindu that the former Chief Minister is thinking of fielding a candidate and getting him elected to the Rajya Sabha to convey to the high command that he has a considerable following among party legislators. This is a strategy that is being worked on, although there is no clarity on whether it will be acted upon since it will attract the provisions of the anti-defection law.

Mr. Yeddyurappa is at present in New Delhi calling on Central leaders of the party, apparently seeking their support to back his demand for reinstatement as Chief Minister. State leaders of the BJP are scheduled to meet here on Saturday to shortlist the candidates and the final announcement is expected to be made in New Delhi on Sunday.

The numbers

The BJP has a strength of 120 legislators, including the Speaker in the 224-member Assembly. If all the members were to cast their vote and there being four seats to be contested, for a victory in the election each candidate has to obtain a minimum of 45 votes. The Congress has a strength of 71 members, the Janata Dal (Secular) 26, apart from which the Assembly has seven Independent members, including one extending support to the BJP.

Mr. Yeddyurappa has stayed away from campaigning for the party candidate Sunil Kumar, in the crucial byelection to the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha seat.

While the election to the Udupi seat is on March 18, the election to the Rajya Sabha seats is on March 30. The last date for filing of nominations for the Rajya Sabha elections is March 19 and the members retiring on April 2 are Hema Malini, K.B. Shanappa, K. Rahman Khan and Rajeev Chandrashekar.

The BJP is expected to field two candidates — one, a national office-bearer (the choice being Nirmala Sitharaman, Sudhindra Kulkarni or Dharmendra Pradhan) and the other being a State leader (the former Union Minister V. Dhananjay Kumar).

Sources in the Congress party told The Hindu that the party High Command will finalise the candidate (likely to be Mr. Rahman Khan or the former Union Minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief) on Sunday, while the JD(S) is stated to be weighing the options depending on the transfer of surplus votes with the BJP.

Hema not keen

Interestingly, it is said that Ms. Hema Malini, who was elected for a break-term of one year in March 2011 (following the demise of M. Rajashekara Murthy) is not too keen to get elected from Karnataka given the opposition here to non-Kannadigas being elected to the Upper House from the State.

Apart from the one-year term from here, Ms. Hema Malini was earlier elected for a full six-year term from 2003 to 2009.

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