S. Rajendran

Final picture on elections to fill four Rajya Sabha seats will emerge only this afternoon

K. Rahman Khan (Congress), M. Rajasekhara Murthy (JD-S) and Rajiv Chandrashekar (independent) filed papers on ThursdayK.B. Shanappa of the BJP has already filed his nomination papersSeveral Congressmen said to be keen on contesting as second candidate

Bangalore: The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are still playing a waiting game on fielding a second candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections. A final picture on whether there will be a contest will be known only a short while before nominations close at 3 p.m. on Friday.

Three candidates K. Rehman Khan (Congress), who is Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, M. Rajasekhara Murthy (Janata Dal-S) and industrialist Rajiv Chandrashekar (independent backed by the JD-S) filed their nomination papers on Thursday. K.B. Shanappa of the BJP filed his nomination papers three days ago.

Sudhakar, a gram panchayat member of Kota village in Lingsugur taluk of Raichur district, also filed his nomination papers without fulfilling the legal requirement of ten MLAs proposing his candidature. His nomination papers are bound to be rejected.

Sources in the JD(S) told The Hindu that the candidature of Mr. Chandrashekar was proposed by the JD(S) with the tacit support of the BJP. Both the parties have, however, refrained from identifying Mr. Chandrashekar as their consensus candidate despite the fact that the MLAs who have proposed his name are closely associated with Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

It is said that the excess votes of the BJP will be in favour of Mr. Chandrashekar, and with the votes of the Kumaraswamy group of JD(S) MLAs, Mr. Chandrashekar is expected to win by a bigger margin than the party candidates in the fray.

The former Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh and Karnataka Congress Committee President M. Mallikarjun Kharge, who called on Congress President Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi three days ago, have, for the record, stated that the party is not interested in fielding a second candidate since id does not have the numbers. This statement was made to see the reaction of the BJP and the stand of the independents and a section of disgruntled JD(S) MLAs.

Sources in the Congress said the leadership here is in touch with the high command and it is up to the latter to take a decision. There are several Congressmen who are keen being the party's second candidate. Prominent among them are Abdul Wahab, a KPCC General Secretary and wealthy iron ore exporter who is the President of the All-India Federation of Mine Owners, and S.S. Mallikarjun, a former Minister who is associated with the management of the medical college in Davangere and a host of other educational institutions.

Mr. Dharam Singh told The Hindu that several independents and the former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his group of JD(S) MLAs will extend support in case the Congress fields a second candidate. "I will bring this matter to the notice of the Congress high command. As such we do not have the numbers. There is still time and we will take a decision," he said.

Fair chance

A second candidate fielded by the Congress will have a fair chance of victory. The Congress has 19 extra votes, and along with the votes of five independents, four votes from the Vatal Paksha, the Republican Party of India, K. Jayaprakash Hegde and the CPI(M) and nine votes from the Siddaramaiah group, the second candidate will be short of eight votes when the first preferential votes are counted.

The argument is that this can be made good with some cross-voting and second preference votes.