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Voting underway for four RS seats in Karnataka as Congress eyes rival camp support

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BENGALURU, Feb 27: Voting in the election for the four Rajya Sabha seats in Karnataka on Tuesday was on, with the ruling Congress claiming it could get support from the rival camp.

Fearing cross-voting, both the Congress and the BJP-JD(S) alliance huddled their MLAs in a private resort on Monday and held a workshop for the new members on the election process and how to cast their votes.

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The Congress has 133 MLAs, excluding the Speaker, while the BJP and JD(S) have 66 and 19 legislators respectively, in the 223-member House. Others account for four. However, one Congress MLA died on Sunday.

Congress sources claimed that the party has the support of four others.

Of the four others, the ruling party claims the support of two independents and Darshan Puttanaiah from Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha, and is confident of winning three seats.

Interestingly, the fourth one – G Janardhana Reddy of Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha had met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday. Reddy, a mining baron, is a former BJP minister.

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“Besides, we may get three votes from the rival camp,” a top Congress source told PTI.

On Tuesday, voting began at 9 am and will go on till 4 pm. The counting will start from 5 pm.

The MLAs will exercise their voting rights using an open ballot system.

They have to display their voting preference to the nominated polling agents.

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The Rajya Sabha seats fell vacant following the retirement of four members – Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar (BJP) and Congress’ G C Chandrashekhar, Syed Naseer Hussain and L Hanumanthaiah.

The ruling party has fielded Chandrashekhar, Naseer Hussain and former union minister Ajay Maken.

The BJP has fielded Narayansa Bhandage, besides JD(S) candidate D Kupendra Reddy as the NDA candidate which has made the election interesting.

All parties have issued whips to the MLAs, who are the voters in Tuesday’s poll, amid apprehensions of cross-voting.

According to official sources, each candidate has to get 45 votes to win, if there are only four candidates in the fray, but in the case of more candidates, the preference votes kick in.

BJP MLA Arvind Bellad was confident about the victory of both the candidates.

“There’s a huge disgruntlement among Congress MLAs. Not even a single rupee has been released to anyone for any developmental work. In the last nine months, the Congress government has been completely defunct. We are confident that the disgruntled MLAs will vote for our NDA candidate,” he told PTI. (PTI)

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