RS polls: BJP assured of two seats, Congress one

As the Election Commission of India announced polls to four seats of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka, along with 53 others across the country on June 10, the ruling BJP will not only retain its two seats, but is likely to win the third seat.

The elections have been necessitated as the term of four members will end on June 30. Among those retiring are BJP members Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and K.C. Ramamurthy, and Congress member and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh. The other seat has been vacant since September 2021 following the death of Congress member and former Union Minister Oscar Fernandes.

The formula

Legislative Assembly sources said that as per a fixed formula, each candidate is required to get 45 votes, and 224 members of the Legislative Assembly will be eligible to vote. The ruling BJP and the principal Opposition Congress with their strength in the Assembly can win two and one seats each comfortably.

The BJP has 122 members (including the Speaker and an Independent), the Congress has 70 (including an Independent), and the Janata Dal (Secular) has 32 members.

Sources said that it is to be seen how political alignments take place for the fourth Rajya Sabha seat from Karnataka as none of the parties with the current strength has 45 votes for the fourth seat.

Political alignment

Sources said that the BJP is likely to win the fourth seat with the help of the JD(S) if the Congress decides to field its second candidate. “The election can also become unanimous if the Congress and the JD(S) decide against fielding their candidate, paving the way for the BJP to have its third candidate.  Independently, the BJP could also be looking at the third seat with its 32 surplus votes and second preferential votes,” sources said. “Since it is an open ballot, for a member to exercise second preference to a candidate from another party is difficult.”

Meanwhile, JD(S) sources indicated that there could be some kind of an understanding with the BJP and the bargain could be for the BJP’s support to get the second seat in the elections being held for seven seats of the Legislative Council to be elected from Legislative Assembly. Currently, two members from the JD(S) are retiring, but the party has the strength to elect one member. “The party will also consider the current political climate before deciding on supporting the BJP,” said the source.

Congress sources said that though the daughter of the late Oscar Fernandes has evinced interest to contest, the high command will decide on the seat. “Only if the party decides not to field Mr. Ramesh that the race opens up since the Congress can win only one seat,“ a leader said. Sources also said that a section in the party also wants a local candidate fielded. He said that the party was unlikely to field its second candidate to force an election.

On the BJP front, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who recently visited New Delhi, held a discussion on the Rajya Sabha elections with party key strategist Amit Shah. Sources in the BJP said the decision was left to the central leadership.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2022 1:21:54 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/rs-polls-bjp-assured-of-two-seats-congress-one/article65407358.ece