Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and actor-politician Jaggesh of the BJP, were among the prominent faces to file their nominations for the June 10 Rajya Sabha polls from Karnataka on Tuesday, as the contest heats up for the fourth seat. While Sitharaman is seeking re-election from Karnataka, for Jaggesh, a former MLA and MLC, this is his first election to the Upper House of the Parliament.
Among the others who filed papers today, the last day to do so, are BJP's third candidate and outgoing MLC Lehar Singh Siroya, and former MP D Kupendra Reddy from the JD(S). Congress candidates — former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh and state general secretary Mansoor Ali Khan — filed their nominations on Monday itself.
Announcement of Khan's name as party's second candidate was a surprise move by the Congress, as it has adequate number of votes to win just one seat. Following this move, the ruling BJP too on Monday night announced the candidature of Siroya, despite having numbers to comfortably win just two seats.
The election to four Rajya Sabha seats is necessitated as the term of office of members Nirmala Sitharaman and K C Ramamurthy of BJP, and Jairam Ramesh — is due to expire on June 30. The fourth member Oscar Fernandes of the Congress passed away last year. A candidate needs 45 votes to win, and based on their strength in the Legislative Assembly, the BJP can win two seats and the Congress one.
However, despite not having an adequate number of votes to win the fourth seat from the State Assembly, all the three political parties in the state — BJP, Congress and JD(S)– have fielded candidates for the seat, forcing an election. After electing two Rajya Sabha candidates (Sitharaman and Jaggesh) on its own strength in the Assembly, the BJP will be left with an additional 29 votes.
The Congress will be left with 24 extra votes after electing Jairam Ramesh, while the JD(S) has only 32 votes, which is not sufficient to win a seat. So, Sitharaman, Jaggesh, and Jairam Ramesh are likely to get elected unopposed, while the contest is likely to take place between Siroya, Khan and Reddy for the fourth seat, if their nominations are accepted and there are no withdrawals.
Meanwhile, JD(S) on Tuesday claimed that its patriarch H D Deve Gowda had spoken to Congress national President Sonia Gandhi, and she and other party leaders had consented to support its candidate. Expressing surprise over Congress fielding a second candidate "all of a sudden", senior JD(S) leader and former Minister H D Revanna requested the national party for support to keep the "communal forces" out of the race. "…there are a couple of days' time (for withdrawal of candidature), let's wait and see."
The scrutiny of nominations will take place tomorrow, and June three is the last date for withdrawal of candidature. Sitharaman was accompanied by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, former CM B S Yediyurappa, and state BJP President Nalin Kumar Kateel, among other party leaders, for filing of nominations.
Expressing gratitude and thanks to Bommai, Yediyurappa, Kateel and Law Minister J C Madhuswamy for proposing and supporting her nomination, Sitharaman in a tweet said, "Dedicate myself to serving Karnataka to the best of my abilities." Noting that the expectation of state unit and workers was that Sitharaman should contest from Karnataka, Yediyurappa said, "we will hundred per cent win two seats and will make all efforts to win the third one, which Lehar Singh Siroya is contesting; we are confident of winning it too."Jaggesh and Siroya too were accompanied by several party leaders while filing their nominations.