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Congress bucks cross-voting, elects 3 from Karnataka

Last updated on: February 27, 2024 21:15 IST

The ruling Congress in Karnataka won three seats and the Bharatiya Janata Party one in the Rajya Sabha elections in Karnataka on Tuesday, which were marred by cross-voting in a setback to the saffron party.

IMAGE: Karnataka deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar casts his vote for the Rajya Sabha elections, in Bengaluru, February 27, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Ajay Maken, G C Chandrasekhar and Syed Naseer Hussain, all from the Congress, and Narayansa K Bhandage of the BJP got elected to the Upper House in the polls in which elected MLAs were the voters.


Five candidates, including D Kupendra Reddy of the Janata Dal-Secular who lost the election, were in the fray for the four seats.

According to official sources, the value of each MLA's vote is 100 and the number of votes sufficient to secure the election of a candidate is 4,441.

Maken, Hussain and Bhandage got 4,700 votes each and Chandrashekhar 4,500. Reddy got only 3,600 votes and therefore did not make the cut.

BJP MLA S T Somashekar voted for Maken, while another party legislator A Shivaram Hebbar abstained.

The BJP said it was exploring the possibility of taking legal action them and lodging a complaint with Speaker UT Khader seeking their disqualification from the assembly for violating the whip issued to them to vote in favour of the party candidate.

"We have got the information that Somashekar has done cross-voting. I consulted with advocate Vivek Reddy who is our state legal cell president and a high court lawyer. We will ask the Speaker to initiate action (of disqualification) against him (Somashekar) and explore the possibilities to take steps in accordance with the law," Leader of Opposition in the state assembly R Ashoka said.

Somashekar had earlier quit the Congress and joined the BJP. He served as a minister in the previous BJP government and was made the Mysuru district in-charge minister back then.

In recent months, Somashekar and Hebbar had distanced themselves from the BJP and increasingly began identifying with the Congress.

The BJP (66 MLAs) and the JD-S (19 MLAs) combined had fielded Kupendra Reddy though they did not have the requisite votes to get him elected. The NDA partners said they were expecting "conscience votes", apparently from the rival Congress camp, in favour of Reddy.

The Congress has 134 members in the assembly. There are also four others members, including two independents.

Somashekar said he heard the "voice of his conscience" and voted in favour of the Congress, "which built schools and carried out developmental works in his constituency". Hebbar too said he abstained from voting adhering to his conscience.

"This is not 'atma sakshi' (conscience) but 'atma droha' (self betrayal),” BJP MLC N Ravi Kumar said, commenting on Somashekar's and Hebbar's actions.

The BJP and JD-S workers staged a demonstration in Bengaluru against Somashekar. Raising slogans, they burnt his effigy.

Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, who is also the state Congress chief, ridiculed the BJP and the JD-S saying, "'Conscience vote seekers' have become 'conscience vote givers'."

"I don't know about cross-voting. I haven't seen the votes of others and independents. Ask the BJP, who spoke about conscience votes," Shivakumar quipped.

Asked if there is legal support for those who have cast conscience votes to Congress candidates, he said, "Let's talk about it when it happens. I am not aware of any complaint filed with the Speaker regarding cross-voting.

"Somashekar has cast his vote as per his conscience. It's a vote against the unholy BJP-JD-S alliance. The general public, graduates, and teachers have rejected the alliance. Let's see what the legislators think."

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah earlier hit out at the JD(S), alleging that the party had sought to lure and threaten its MLAs.

“JD-S needs 45 votes (for their candidate) to win. Do they have that many votes? Even though they don't have enough votes, they still fielded the candidate and are luring our MLAs. Do they have a conscience?” the chief minister asked.

“An FIR has been lodged regarding the threat to us,” Siddaramaiah said.

Speaking to reporters here, Siddaramaiah lashed out at the JD-S, saying, “When JD-S does not have 'atma' (soul), how can it have atma sakshi (conscience)? They call themselves Janata Dal (Secular) but whom did they join with?”. He was referring to the JD(S) forming an alliance with the BJP.

Former chief minister and JD-S second-in-command H D Kumaraswamy said the FIR against Kupendra Reddy and his aides was registered at Vidhana Soudha police station.

Kumaraswamy said the complainant MLA did not say that he was lured, but that some other MLAs were "approached".

“Melukote MLA Darshan Puttannaiah of Karnataka Sarvodaya Paksha too had said that it's true that his vote was sought but no one had lured him,” the JD-S state chief claimed.

Kumaraswamy said the BJP and JD-S had decided to field Kupendra Reddy on the basis of the votes of the 19 JD-S MLAs and the additional BJP votes after its first preferential votes.

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