“Because I Love Congress…”: MLA On Cross-Voting In Karnataka

JD(S) MLA Srinivas Gowda leaving after casting his vote in Rajya Sabha polls on Friday.

Bengaluru:

At least one legislator from Janata Dal (Secular), Srinivas Gowda, voted for the Congress in the Rajya Sabha polls being held for four seats in Karnataka on Friday. SR Srinivas, JD(S) MLA from Gubbi, is alleged to have deposited a blank ballot paper, invalidating his vote, though he has denied this, reported PTI.

Cross-voting is significant as one of the seats is seeing a heated contest between the main opposition parties – Congress and JD(S) – both of which have vowed to defeat the BJP.

Kolar MLA Srinivas Gowda was asked whom he voted for as he was leaving the assembly complex. “I voted Congress,” he said. Asked why, he responded, “Because I love it.” He has in the past too said he would quit the HD Kumaraswamy-led JD(S) and join the Congress.

A third JD(S) MLA, HD Ravanna, is alleged to have to shown his ballot paper to state Congress President DK Shivakumar before putting it into the box.

Results are expected by the evening.

Saying that two of his party’s 32 MLAs did not vote for the party, JD(S) President HD Kumaraswamy told reporters, “Such low level politics, are they legislators? He (Gubbi MLA Srinivas) has put a blank ballot paper into the box. He has not voted for anyone, but outside the voting centre, in front of the media he has claimed he voted for JD(S).”

SR Srinivas rejected the allegations and said he even showed the ballot paper to the JD(S) agent as per rules.

As the election has an open ballot system, MLAs (voters) have to show the ballot paper to their respective party agents after choosing their preferences.

Mr Kumaraswamy was visibly angry with Mr Gowda, the MLA who confirmed having voted for the Congress. “If that man has any decency, let him resign and do politics. He has insulted the people and JD(S) workers of Kolar,” Mr Kumaraswamy said.

A day ahead of the polls, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah, a former chief minister, wrote an open letter to JD(S) MLAs, requesting them to cast their “conscience vote” in favour of his party’s candidate Mansoor Ali Khan, stating that his win will be a victory of “secular ideology” followed by both parties.

“By not supporting a secular party like ours, the Congress has strengthened the BJP,” Mr Kumrawamy said on Friday. In an interview to NDTV a day before, he had accused the Congress of having no interest in defeating the BJP candidate. The JD(S) had moved its MLAs to a hotel to prevent poaching allegedly from Congress, accusing the party of playing “dirty politics”.

Six candidates filed their nominations for the four seats from Karnataka, necessitating a heated contest for the fourth seat.

A candidate needs 45 votes to win in the Rajya Sabha polls.

The state’s ruling party BJP has fielded three candidates. It can win two seats comfortably on account of its strength in the assembly. Congress has fielded two candidates, though its numbers say it can be sure of victory on one.

For the fourth seat, the BJP is left with 32 votes and the Congress with 24, while the JD(S) has 32 MLAs. No party has the number to win this seat for sure, but all three have fielded candidates. The JD(S) has fielded only this one candidate.

Both Congress and JD(S) have vowed to defeat the BJP, but neither is ready to pull out. Mr Kumaraswamy questioned why it should be his party to back out when it has more MLAs left for the seat than Congress, and thus a better chance to win.

Congress leaders said it was time for the JD(S) to return a favour, pointing out that former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Mr Kumaraswamy’s father, got elected to Rajya Sabha last time with its support in June 2020.

Lawmakers are voting for 16 Rajya Sabha seats after 41 seats were filled by candidates elected unopposed. The Rajya Sabha elections are crucial in view of the Presidential elections next month.

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