With elections due for four Rajya Sabha seats and 12 MLC seats vacant, political activities within the Karnataka BJP unit have become hectic. Delhi-based leaders of the BJP said the rumbling in the state unit is all about filling these vacancies and an expected expansion in the B S Yediyurappa cabinet.
Out of the four Rajya Sabha seats going to polls on June 19, the BJP is sure of winning two and the Congress one. The fourth candidate could be former PM and JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda, sources said.
As the Congress and the JD (S) are yet to decide on the fourth seat, the BJP is holding its decision on whether it should field a third candidate. “The state leaders are meeting on Saturday and they will convey their decision to the central leadership. A decision on fielding a third candidate will be finalised after it,” said a BJP leader. Sources said if Deve Gowda does not emerge as a common candidate for the Congress and JD (S), the BJP could field its candidate for the fourth seats, creating a possibility of political realignment in the state.
The BJP’s Prabhakar Kore, a Lingayat leader whose Rajya Sabha term ends on June 25, is looking for another term. Umesh Katti, an influential BJP MLA, is keen on his brother Ramesh getting a ticket to the Upper House. An eight-term MLA, Katti has been disgruntled with the party and has been demanding a ministerial berth.
Former JD(S) leader H Vishwanath, currently with BJP, is also keen on a Rajya Sabha seat, said sources. Other names doing the rounds include Tejaswini Ananth Kumar, widow of late Union minister Ananth Kumar.
As for the 12 MLC berths, seven are up for polls and five are for nominated members.
The Chief Minister will have to accommodate some of those who quit their parties to bring down the Congress-JD (S) government last July. While 17 MLAs (14 from Congress and three from JD (S)) joined the BJP, 11 of them have returned to the Assembly through bypolls.
Party sources in Delhi, however, said the Yeddyurappa government is on solid ground as he enjoys the confidence of the BJP leadership as well as mass support.
The current strength of the 224-member Karnataka Assembly is 222 in which the BJP holds 117 seats (including the Speaker). The Congress and JD(S) hold 68 and 34 seats, respectively. The BSP has one seat and there are two Independents. A candidate to Rajya Sabha needs 44 votes from the Assembly to secure his seat. With the current strength, the Congress has 24 extra votes after electing Mallikarjun Kharge, whose candidature was announced on Friday. JD (S) needs 10 more votes to win a seat.
Sources said that while the JD (S) state leadership is reluctant to seek the Congress’s support, Danish Ali, a Lok Sabha member who won on a BSP ticket, has been talking to Congress leaders for ensuring Deve Gowda’s election to the Upper House.
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