After being snubbed just over a week ago by the BJP leadership in selection of candidates for the Rajya Sabha polls, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has had more of a say in the choice of BJP candidates in election for seven seats in the state Legislative Council on June 29.
The Rajya Sabha polls, originally scheduled for Friday, did not eventually take place, as all four candidates were declared elected unopposed.
For the Member of Legislative Council (MLC) polls, Yediyurappa has been able to ensure candidature of three of his picks among four BJP nominees. Congress rebels M T B Nagaraj and R Shankar, who were among 13 Congress MLAs to have switched over to BJP in 2019 to topple the then Congress-JD(S) coalition government and bring the saffron party to power, are among the four nominated.
Yediyurappa is understood to have promised ministerial positions to the rebels in exchange for their support.
While eight Congress rebels who were disqualified by the Speaker for defection were appointed ministers in February after they won in the Assembly by-elections, Nagaraj, who lost the bypolls, and Shankar, who did not contest, were not eligible to hold public office until re-election to the legislature under the anti-defection law.
A third Yediyurappa pick to make the cut for the MLC polls is his long-time associate Sunil Valyapure, while the fourth is a party pick — Prathap Simha Nayak, a long-term worker from coastal Karnataka region.
A JD(S) rebel and former Congress veteran H Vishwanath, who lost the bypolls in December 2019 as a BJP candidate, did not get picked for the MLC polls.
The BJP has 116 seats in the Assembly and will be able to ensure the victory of all four of its candidates, who need a minimum of 25 votes each to be elected. The election of Nagaraj and Shankar is expected to set the stage for expansion of the state Cabinet, which already has 10 former Congress and JD(S) legislators who switched sides as ministers.
Earlier this month, the BJP central leadership had surprised Yediyurappa by picking two low-profile party leaders – Eranna Kadadi, 54, and Ashok Gasti, 55 – as the party’s candidates for Rajya Sabha. The choice of the grassroots workers was seen widely as a snub to Yediyurappa, who evidently wanted former MPs Prabhakar Kore and Ramesh Katti along with hotelier Prakash Shetty, in the Upper House.
Rajya Sabha candidates from the BJP, Congress and the JD(S) have been elected unopposed, as only four candidates were in the fray. The Congress backed party veteran Mallikarjun Kharge and joined hands with the JD(S) to back former PM H D Deve Gowda for the Rajya Sabha, while the BJP has provided tacit support to Gowda by not fielding a third candidate.
For the Council polls, the Congress, which can win two seats, has picked retiring Rajya Sabha member B K Hariprasad and Nasseer Ahmed, who is said to be close to former CM Siddaramaiah.
The JD(S) which can elect one MLC, has picked veteran leader Govindaraju.