As the race for the fourth Rajya Sabha seat from Karnataka gets intense with candidates of all the three parties in the fray, both Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) are now using secularism card to “convince” each other to withdraw from the race to enable the defeat of the BJP candidate.
While a clear picture will emerge on the last date for withdrawal of nomination on Friday, the BJP currently seems to have an edge with higher number of additional votes and second preferential votes. This can, however, change if one of the candidates from the combined Opposition withdraws in favour of the other. Of the other three seats, BJP is set to win two and Congress one seat.
Lahar Singh Siroya (BJP), Mansoor Ali Khan (Congress), and Kupendra Reddy (JD-S) have filed nominations for the fourth seat. The elections are scheduled on June 10.
An inconclusive meeting
A day after former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy launched a scathing attack on Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah for fielding the second Congress candidate, two JD(S) MLCs T.A. Sharavana and B.M. Farooq took political circles by surprise by visiting Mr. Siddaramaiah at his residence seeking Congress’s support to the JD(S) candidate.
“On direction from the party supremo H.D. Deve Gowda, we have appealed to the former Chief Minister to withdraw their candidate and support the JD(S). This will help the candidate from a secular party to win and thwart BJP’s effort to get the fourth seat too,” Mr. Sharavana told The Hindu. He also said that Mr. Siddaramaiah was non-committal since two more days were left for the withdrawal of nomination.
On the other, KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar appealed to the JD(S) leaders to help the young Congress candidate to win that will help secular forces defeat the BJP. He also pointed out that Congress helped Mr. Gowda to sail through in earlier Rajya Sabha elections, and also despite having more number of seats the Congress left the Chief Minister’s post to JD(S) in coalition.
The Congress is learnt to have fielded the Muslim candidate to embarrass JD(S) by asking for support to prove its secular credential, and also force the BJP to field its third candidate. “If talks breakdown and the BJP candidate succeeds in the election Congress would be to be blamed for sacrificing a Muslim candidate and also allowing BJP to win an extra seat,” JD Legislative Party Deputy Leader Bandeppa Kashempur said.
Meanwhile, JD(S) sources said that they were confident that the Congress candidate will withdraw from fray, and that their top leadership will speak to the Congress’s leadership again over the issue if necessary. “There will be more clarity once Mr. Kumaraswamy returns from Singapore.”