KARNATAKA RS POLLS: JDS ACCUSES RO OF COLLUSION WITH RULING CONG
Bengaluru: The JDS on Friday demanded countermanding of election to fill four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka, alleging that the returning officer in ‘collusion’ with the ruling Congress in the state allowed two of its members to recast their vote after they ‘cross-voted’.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, however, termed the charge as ‘false’, saying before casting their votes, the two MLAs realised they had made a “mistake” on the ballot paper, so they took another one for which “there is a provision in the law.”
Five candidates, three from the Congress and one each from the BJP and the JDS are in the fray for the four seats.
As the poll process was underway, JDS leader and former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy claimed that two senior Congress MLAs had “cross voted” against their party’s official nominees by marking for another candidate on the ballot paper. However, on the request of the ruling party’s agent, the returning officer later allowed both the candidates to vote once again by issuing them a fresh ballot paper, he alleged.
“Minister Kagodu Thimmappa, who was a former speaker, and MLA Baburao Chinchansur, both of them have cross-voted in the first ballot paper, then they have shown it to their agent.
“After seeing the cross-voting the agent protested. Then the Returning Officer allowed these two voters to vote once again, the second vote,” Kumaraswamy told reporters here.
Stating that the returning officer had considered the request for the second vote with the fresh ballot paper, he said: “we are protesting …illegal voting is going on.”
The observer from the Election Commission has been requested to “countermand” the election process, he added.
Four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka will fall vacant early next month following the retirement of sitting members.
Claiming that both Thimmappa and Chinchanasur wanted to vote against Congress candidates, Kumaraswamy alleged that the Returning Officer is “colluding” with the government.
Rejecting the charge, Siddaramaiah said: “It appears they (JDS) are desperate…they have tried everything, they had gone to the court (on seven rebel JDS MLA issue), they failed in the court, and desperately they are making these allegations.” The chief minister also expressed confidence that all three Congress candidates will win the election, saying “we have enough votes on our side.”
The Congress has fielded Dr L Hanumanthaiah, Dr Syed Naseer Hussain and G C Chandrasekhar.
The BJP has nominated Rajeev Chandrashekar, who was an independent Rajya Sabha member, and the JDS nominee is B M Farooq.
With their current strength in the assembly, two candidates of the Congress and one from BJP can get elected comfortably.
However, the fight will be between the third candidate of the Congress and the JDS’ Farooq.
Here too, the arithmetic favours the Congress, with the party hoping for support from seven rebels JDS MLAs, who are expected to join the ruling party after the Rajya Sabha polls.
It also expects the support of MLAs from smaller parties- BR Patil (KJP), B Nagendra (independent) and Ashok Kheny (KMP), who have recently joined the Congress.
According to reports, the Congress’ decision to field its third candidate came as a blow to JDS that had hoped the Congress would support its candidate, keeping in mind the larger picture of post assembly poll scenario.
Assembly elections in the state are expected in the next two months.
In the 225-member assembly (including one nominated), each candidate will require 44 votes to win a Rajya Sabha seat.
At present, the party-wise strength in the assembly is Congress-122, BJP-43, JDS-37, BSR Congress-3, KJP-2, KMP-1, independents-8, Speaker-1, nominated-1, vacant-7.
Farooq had earlier too contested from JDS during the biennial elections to fill four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka in June 2016 but had lost, as eight MLAs from the party voted in support of Congress candidate.