JD(S) moves legislators to hotel ahead of Rajya Sabha polls

Party fears poaching as Congress has been seeking ‘conscience vote’ for its second candidate

Party fears poaching as Congress has been seeking ‘conscience vote’ for its second candidate

With less than 48 hours to go for Rajya Sabha elections in which the race for the fourth seat currently seems to be tight, the Janata Dal (Secular), which has been seeking the Congress’ help to ensure victory of its candidate, moved its legislators to a star category hotel in Whitefield here on Wednesday fearing poaching as the Congress has been seeking ‘conscience vote’ for its second candidate.

While both the Congress and the JD(S) are dangling the secular tag at each other to seek support, leaders of both the parties continue to be in touch to overcome the logjam. JD(S) sources informed that the party leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy spoke to Congress general secretary in charge of Karnataka Randeep Surjewala on Wednesday too reiterating his offer of exchanging the second preference vote to each other, and seeking the excess vote of the Congress. Both parties have already issued whip to its legislators to vote for the party candidates.

“Most of the party legislators were already in Bengaluru to attend the naming ceremony of Nikhil Kumaraswamy’s son on Wednesday. The party does not see threat from the Congress alone. With the BJP’s third candidate short of votes, poaching cannot be ruled out,” JD(S) sources said. “Some legislators are set to join the others at the hotel on Thursday since the legislative party meeting will be held there.”

In the elections to be held on Friday, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and actor Jaggesh (BJP), and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh (Congress) are expected to win comfortably with the numbers that both parties have in the Legislative Assembly. Lahar Singh Siroya (BJP), Mansoor Ali Khan (Congress), and D. Kupendra Reddy (JD-S) are in the fray for the fourth seat.

While the Congress Legislative Party meeting is also scheduled on Thursday, the BJP concluded its legislative party meeting on Wednesday to chalk out its strategies.

Meanwhile, KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar on Wednesday said the JD(S), which had not held talks with the Congress while fielding its candidate, “is facing an issue of prestige” to support the Congress. Reacting to an offer made by Mr. Kumaraswamy to exchange the second preference votes, he said: “Despite several differences in the past, the State Congress supported the JD(S) to keep secular principles in politics. Now, there was no necessity of repeating the past incidents. Mr. Surjewala decided to field the party’s second candidate. Let the JD(S) support the Congress candidate this time.”

The Congress leader said Mr. Kumaraswamy can speak any issues with regard to politics. Being a president of the State Congress, he would speak only after consultation with party leaders. “I cannot share my personal opinions like the JD(S) leader,” Mr. Shivakumar said.

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