In Karnataka, Jairam Ramesh and Nirmala Sitharaman duly elected to the RS but BJP gets a walkover

Congress nominee KPCC general secretary Mansoor Ali Khan and JD(S) nominee realtor D Kupendra Reddy, however, lost with the rift between the two parties giving a walkover to the BJP

The winners: BJP--Lahar Singh Siroya, Jaggesh, Nirmala Sitharan and Jairam Ramesh
The winners: BJP--Lahar Singh Siroya, Jaggesh, Nirmala Sitharan and Jairam Ramesh

Naheed Ataulla

With the ruling BJP in Karnataka winning three of the total four Rajya Sabha seats, Congress one and the Janata Dal-Secular (JDS) drawing a blank has once again exposed the rifts between the two opposition parties. This handed over a seat on a platter to the BJP.

Although former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and KPCC President D K Shivakumar put up spirited efforts to get the party's second candidate for the fourth seat elected, the underlying political rivalry between the two washed away the hard work they had put in. In the JD(S) camp the discontent among some of the MLAs on former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda family members' hegemony over the party resulted in two members defying the whip. The BJP initially rattled by the Congress and JD(S) entry into the poll fray for the fourth seat, for which none of the three parties had the requisite numbers with the contest expected to go down to the wire had a walkover victory.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Kannada actor Jaggesh and retiring MLC Lahar Singh Siroya, who was the contestant for the fourth seat won and Congress lone member, former Minister, Jairam Ramesh. The Congress second nominee KPCC general secretary Mansoor Ali Khan and realtor D Kupendra Reddy of the JD(S) lost.

Reddy lost to Siroya by three votes. The votes polled were Sitharaman 46, Jaggesh 44, Siroya 33 and Ramesh 46. Each candidate had to get 45 votes, but for the fourth seat it was the tally and Reddy polled 30 votes against Siroya's 33 votes.

KPCC President D K Shivakumar greets  MP elect Jairam Ramesh
KPCC President D K Shivakumar greets MP elect Jairam Ramesh

The elections were preceded by a war of words between Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy, with both whipping up the secular narrative. The three candidates' victory for the fourth seat depended on the second preference votes and Kumaraswamy made an offer to the Congress of trading the second preference votes. He wanted the Congress to transfer all its 69 second preference votes to the JD(S) and in turn the latter would give its 32 also second preference votes.

Rejecting Kumaraswamy's trade offer, the Congress played the minority card with Siddaramaiah seeking conscience votes from all parties and also sent letters to MLAs to uphold secular credentials., Shivakumar made a fervent appeal saying Khan is Bengaluru's top most educationist, a clean hand and a vibrant youngster from Mandya.

What went wrong for Congress: Congress sources said the party could have won the fourth seat, If Shivakumar known as the ``trouble-shooter or spin doctor'' in party circles had worked on his electoral management skills. Be it ferrying Congress MLAs from Karnataka, Maharashtra or Gujarat to resorts to prevent them from being poached or ensuring the victory of the party candidate in assembly bypolls, he is the trusted go-to-man by the high command.

``It was very simple for Shivakumar to split the JD(S) and convince nine to 10 MLAs to vote for the Congress. For anyone else it would have been a Herculean task but not for Shivakumar. We were short of eight MLAs' votes. If former Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar could manage to convince JD(S) MLA K Srinivasa Gowda to cross vote, it was not difficult for the KPCC President,'' they maintained.

The underlying political rivalry between Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar is said to be the reason for the latter not to give his complete mind share to the exercise. Both are chief minister aspirants, if the Congress comes to power in 2023 assembly polls. Besides, Siddaramaiah has managed to have his say in the selection of candidates to the two legislative council seats and the decision to field a second nominee and a Muslim for the Rajya Sabha polls of late. Emerging as the Congress face for minorities and other backward classes, Siddaramaiah has also been waging a lone battle against the Right wing groups in Karnataka.

JD(S) discontent: The JD(S) suffered a setback as two of its MLAs of the total 32 members defied the whip. K Srinivasa Gowda, representing Kolar constituency, told the media that he had voted for the Congress candidate. ``My future is in the Congress, I love the party,'' he said.

However, S R Srinivas, Gubbi MLA, claimed that he had voted for his party (JDS), which was disputed by Kumaraswamy. Srinivas dropped a blank ballot into the ballot box. Venting his ire against both the MLAs, Kumaraswamy said he will not seek their disqualification as such efforts in the past have been futile.

What next: The Rajya Sabha results have signalled a clear break-up between the Congress and JD(S) and possibilities of any pre-poll alliance in future to stall the BJP appear remote. At least five JD(S) MLAs have openly expressed their displeasure and are preparing to join the Congress.

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