One-time allies Congress and JD(S) are locking horns in the midst of the high-stakes Rajya Sabha election in Karnataka. JD(S) chief HD Kumaraswamy has accused the Congress party’s Siddaramaiah of inducing his party’s MLAs to cross-vote for the grand old party’s candidate.
Kumaraswamy aired his grouse with the Congress after Karnataka Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah wrote an open letter to JD(S) MLAs on Thursday, requesting them to cast their “conscience vote” in favour of his party’s second candidate, Mansoor Ali Khan.
Hitting out at Siddaramaiah, Kumaraswamy said, “Today, before local media, he (Siddaramaiah) said that he didn’t write to my MLAs. He had even tweeted the letter from his social media account. Now, he’s denying what he said yesterday. This shows his double standards.”
With hours to go to the Rajya Sabha polls, Siddaramaiah claimed that a few JD(S) legislators were in touch with him. Kumaraswamy alleged that the Congress leader was “pressurising” JD(S) MLAs not to vote for their own party.
Kumaraswamy had urged the Congress to support his party candidate — D Kupendra Reddy — and also made an offer to trade second preference votes with its former ally. But Congress, the main opposition party in Karnataka, made it clear to the JD(S) that it was now time for it to return the favour, pointing out that former prime minister H D Deve Gowda got elected to Rajya Sabha last time with its support in June 2020.
In his two-page letter, Siddaramaiah reminded JD(S) MLAs about the Congress party’s support in making their supremo Deve Gowda the Prime Minister and member of Rajya Sabha (in 2020), and crowning Kumaraswamy the chief minister after the Karnataka assembly polls in 2018, despite the regional party securing just 37 seats.
He said the JD(S)’s sudden decision to field a candidate despite not having enough number of votes had come as a shock to the Congress, while asserting that Khan’s win will be a victory of the “secular ideology” followed by both parties.
Unmoved by Siddaramaiah’s secularism appeal, Kumaraswamy scoffed, “We have 31 votes. What is Congress saying, about secular votes. We have more votes for our candidate.”
Six candidates are in the fray for the Rajya Sabha election for four seats from Karnataka, necessitating a heated contest for the fourth seat.
Despite not having the adequate number of votes to win the fourth seat from the state Assembly, all three political parties in the state the BJP, Congress and JD(S) — have fielded candidates for the seat, forcing an election.
A candidate needs the support of 45 MLAs to win, and based on their strength in the Legislative Assembly, the BJP can win two seats and the Congress one.