The ruling Congress party in Karnataka comfortably bagged three out of four Rajya Sabha seats from the state, while the BJP won the fourth in a high-voltage election.
The winners included Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Congress candidates Jairam Ramesh, Oscar Fernandes and K C Ramamurthy. While parties declared the number of votes polled by their candidates, the Election Commission did not declare the final results. The final EC announcement was delayed due to a complaint lodged by the JD(S) over alleged violation of rules by Congress leaders during voting Saturday.
“The final result will be announced after the state election commission consults with the central election commission,’’ said Congress leader D K Shivakumar.
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However, despite talk of a close fight with the JD(S) for the fourth seat, Congress candidate and former IPS officer-turned-businessman K C Ramamurthy strolled to an easy win with 21 extra votes, thanks to cross-voting by eight JD(S) rebels and the support of nine Independents and four members of minor parties. The Congress had assigned 31 of its MLAs to vote for Ramamurthy (63). Garnering the support of 52 of the 224 MLAs in the Assembly, he won the most first preference votes.
Congress leaders Ramesh and Fernandes polled the exact number of votes — 47 and 46, respectively — allotted to them by party’s state unit from the 124 MLAs in its kitty. Sitharaman also got the 47 votes assigned to her by the state BJP unit, which included 44 BJP MLAs and three affiliated members.
Businessman and JD(S) candidate B M Farookh managed only 33 votes despite the JD(S) having a strength of 40 in the Assembly. Eight JD(S) MLAs — Zameer Ahmed, Cheluvarayaswamy, Balakrishna HC, Akhanda Sreenivasmurthy, Y Gopalaiah, Bheema Naik, Ramesh Bandisiddegowda and Iqbal Ansari — were identified as cross-voters by party spokesman Ramesh Babu.
The JD(S) is set to hold a meeting Sunday with state president H D Kumaraswamy saying action will be initiated against the rebel MLAs. “Dissidence has occurred. The national president (former PM H D Deve Gowda) will take necessary action. A decision will be taken Sunday…We have to stop the cancer from spreading,’’ said Kumaraswamy.
Accusing Congress of defeating a Muslim candidate, he said: “Who has caused the loss of a Muslim candidate? Muslims should understand how their community is being misused by their own people. The Congress says secular forces must unite, but then does this.”
Ramamurthy, who won with support of JD(S) rebels, replaces businessman Vijay Mallya, who won in 2010 as an Independent with the backing of the JD(S) and the BJP.
While Fernandes was re-elected to Rajya Sabha from the state, Ramesh replaces the BJP’s Ayanur Manjunath. The BJP nominated Sitharaman in place of Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, who moved to Rajasthan on account of a social media campaign against his candidacy for a fourth term from Karnataka.