RS polls for four seats from Karnataka on Saturday: EC

RS polls for four seats from Karnataka on Saturday: EC

New Delhi: The Election Commission has declared that polling for four Raja Sabha seats from Karnataka will be held as scheduled on June 11 at the state's secretariat. "In seven states, including Karnataka, the (biennial) election will be held on June 11 to fill the four seats in the Rajya Sabha, as the six-year term of the three outgoing lawmakers' lapse on June 30," said the poll panel in a statement here on Thursday.

As the number of seats (four) to be filled are more than the three falling vacant on June 30, owing to the retirement of the sitting members, one seat has been vacant following the resignation of (industrialist) Vijaya Mallya on May 4.

With five nominees, including three from the ruling Congress and one each from the BJP and Janatal Dal-Secular (JD-S) being in the fray, election has become inevitable. The candidates are Oscar Fernandes, Jairam Ramesh and K.C. Ramamurthy (all Congress), Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman of the Bharatiya Janata Party and B.M. Farooq of JD-S.

Though the JD-S sought countermanding or postponing the polls by three weeks following a sting operation by two English national channels last week, showing that the seats were on sale as a quid pro quo for the votes of the nine independents and members of the regional outfits having one or two lawmakers in the assembly.

The lawmakers featured in the sting appeared to have indicated that funds for development of their constituencies were offered in lieu of their voting for a particular party candidate, although the ruling party denied the charge. Each candidate requires 45 votes to be elected to the upper house of Parliament form 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.

Farooq, however, needs five more votes to win as his party (JD-S) has only 40 lawmakers in the house and if all of them cast their votes to him. With more than five JD-S 'rebel' lawmakers, including Zameer Ahmed and N. Cheluvaraswamy threatening to vote for the Congress third candidate (Ramamurthy), Farooq 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.