Congress to field Raghuram Rajan for Rajya Sabha from Karnataka?
BJP and JD(S) plan to field a fifth candidate to spoil Congress’s hopes of getting three candidates elected; they may field businessman Kupendra Reddy of JD(S)
Confident of winning three of the four Rajya Sabha seats up for the grabs in Karnataka, the Congress reportedly wants to field former RBI chief Raghuram Rajan to the upper house of parliament while the BJP and JD(S) are looking to grab the fourth seat.
But the Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal-Secular are also scheming to back a fifth candidate in the hope that he will cut through the Congress base and perhaps pull through due to cross-voting, cutting the Congress tally to two.
Biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha for 56 seats from 15 state assemblies will be held on February 27. The four Rajya Sabha members whose terms are ending on April 2 are the BJP's Rajiv Chandrasekhar (Union minister) and the Congress's GC Chandrasekhar, L Hanumantaiah and Nasir Hussain.
With the Congress having the potential to secure three seats, party president M Mallikarjun Kharge has indicated his intention to nominate a candidate for the third position. The other two will be chosen by the state Congress.
Rajan or Singhvi?
According to Congress sources, Raghuram Rajan is a likely contender. If he says ‘no’, noted Supreme Court lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi could take his place. Although Raghuram Rajan has publicly denied any intention of contesting for the Rajya Sabha, it is said the Congress is still trying to convince him.
Raghuram Rajan, known for his critique of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's economic policies since leaving the RBI, has made him a popular choice.
If Raghuram Rajan or any other non-Kannadiga candidate is chosen by the Congress, it will mark the first instance of the party doing so from the state. While Rajiv Chandrasekhar is likely to get another chance from the BJP, there is speculation about fielding a new candidate within the BJP-JD(S) alliance.
Kupendra Reddy is considered a potential JD(S) candidate, and discussions revolve around allowing a free vote.
The Congress, comprising 135 members and backed by three Independents, is expected to maintain its hold on the three seats from Karnataka. Simultaneously, the BJP and the JD(S), with 66 and 19 members respectively, are projected to secure the fourth seat.
According to the rules of the legislature secretariat, each candidate has to secure 45 votes. Thus, the Congress can easily send three winners to the Rajya Sabha.
As the BJP has 66 seats, it can send one candidate to the Rajya Sabha from the Karnataka Assembly. With a surplus of 21 votes and with the JD(S) having 19 votes, they have an additional 40 votes.
The BJP and JD(S) are planning to field a fifth candidate to spoil the Congress's hopes of getting three candidates elected. They plan to field JD(S) Rajya Sabha MP, businessman Kupendra Reddy.
Reddy would need five more votes. To win, he needs to secure these votes by achieving four independents (G Janardhana Reddy leans towards BJP) besides getting one Congress members to cross-vote.
According to sources, the BJP is trying to secure the vote of Congress MLA Laxman Savadi, who has been asked by the BJP to re-join the party on the lines of former chief minister Jagadish Shettar.
Though state Congress chief DK Shivakumar and chief minister Siddaramaiah are in touch with Savadi, a last-minute drama cannot be ruled out.
But Congress leaders are in touch with disgruntled JD(S) MLAs for cross-voting in their favour to secure three seats without any hassles.
In the 2016 Rajya Sabha elections, too, seven JD(S) legislators cast their ballot for Congress candidate KC Ramamurthy.This time, it is believed that several MLAs of JD(S) are unhappy with the decision to support the BJP by their leader HD Kumaraswamy. So, if the BJP and JD(S) attempt cross-voting, it will be more problematic for JD(S), said a JD(S) MLA who doesn't want to be named.