Amid high drama, Cong wins 3 RS seats in Karnataka, BJP gains 1



The Congress won all three Rajya Sabha seats it contested and the BJP one, on a day of high drama at the Vidhana Soudha on Friday. The JD(S) had fielded a lone candidate, but boycotted the poll after two Congress
MLAs were given a second chance to vote, much to the regional party’s chagrin. The two members of the ruling party voted again after they had committed technical errors in the ballot paper.

Counting of the 185 votes — a total 217 turned up to vote — began around 7.45pm after clearance from the Election Commission. The two Congress votes which were at the heart of the dispute were set aside. The 185 votes included the two from JD(S) members who had exercised their franchise before the ruckus erupted.

Of the three Congress candidates, G C Chandrashekar, political secretary to KPCC president G Parameshwara, the party’s third candidate, polled the highest number of votes (46). Dalit writer L Hanumanthaiah, the party’s first candidate, polled 44 while Syed Naseer Hussain secured 42.

BJP’s candidate and sitting MP, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who joined the party on the day of filing his nomination papers, polled 50 votes — the highest. This means that apart from the 43 BJP members, Chandrasekhar also garnered votes from seven others associated with the saffron outfit. The seven include three votes from BSR Congress, one from KJP and three independents who joined the BJP recently.

The drama commenced around 10.30am when the JD (S) raised objections to revenue minister Kagodu Thimappa and Congress MLA from Gurmitkal, Baburao Chinchansur, who had made errors in the ballot papers, being given a second chance to vote. No sooner did Thimappa seek a replacement ballot paper than JD(S) polling agent H D Revanna raised objection.

18 Cong MLAs wanted to cross-vote, says HDK

According to sources, Thimappa wrongly ticked the box and also used Roman numerals instead of the acceptable Arabic numbers 1 and 2 as his preferred choice of candidates. Chinchansur, while marking his preference, smudged ink on his ballot paper. This prompted JD(S) state president, H D Kumaraswamy, and 30 of his party MLAs to enter the polling station and stage a dharna.

Polling was suspended for some time after JD(S) raised slogans and blocked passage to the booth. Later, the party submitted a memorandum to chief election officer (CEO) Sanjiv Kumar, seeking countermanding of the elections due to “gross violations” by S Murthy, the returning officer and assembly secretary.

After the JD(S) had filed a formal complaint with Kumar, the assembly secretary was replaced by undersecretary H Kumaraswamy, midway through the process. The remainder of the election process was conducted with the undersecretary in charge.

Hitting out at the Congress, H D Kumaraswamy said chief minister Siddaramaiah as part of his “bhagya” schemes has provided even “Mathadhara Bhagya” (polling bhagya) in the state for its own legislators. “Assembly personnel and election officers have colluded with the Congress government to curb the conscience of the Congress MLAs who wanted to crossvote,” Kumaraswamy claimed. “As many as 18 Congress MLAs wanted to cross-vote, but were restricted by the election officers.”

Kumaraswamy said the assembly secretary and CEO, who was a bureaucrat serving in the Karnataka government, had openly colluded with the government to help the Congress. “We have decided to boycott elections and have faxed the entire incident to the Election Commission of India (ECI), including the action of the returning officer and CEO,” said Kumaraswamy.

The JD(S) state president said losing was nothing new, especially since they knew they did not have the required numbers to get their candidate — B M Farook — elected. He said it was a “symbolic effort” to field a candidate.

Earlier, chief minister Siddaramaiah was confident of all three Congress candidates winning. On the JD(S) protest and memorandum to the EC, Siddaramaiah said: “There is an option in election rules to seek a second ballot in case of an error in the first ballot paper. There is no controversy.”

The Congress blamed the JD(S) outburst on its inability to mobilize votes to ensure Farook was elected.

Meanwhile, five of the seven rebel JD(S) candidates, who are scheduled to join the Congress on March 25, cast their ballot. “We voted and showed our ballot to the JD(S) polling agent to leave no doubt as to who we voted for,” said Nagamangala MLA N Cheluvarayaswamy and Chamarajpet MLA BZ Zameer Ahmad Khan.

Congress Belur MLA Rudresh Gowda did not vote as he is hospitalized due to illness.

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