Bengaluru: As the battle for representing Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha heats up, the Congress has moved 10 Independent MLAs to Marriott hotel in Mumbai. The move has been undertaken to keep them away from the opposition parties until Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishad elections are over.
The Congress is trying to get three candidates elected to the Upper House from the state, but it lacks the required numbers.
The Congress move came at a time when a cash-for-votes sting operation has surfaced which allegedly showed MLAs negotiating for their votes.
A "sting" operation by a news channel showed Congress candidate KC Ramamurthy and Independent MLAs purportedly speaking about getting increased development funds for the constituency from the government in return for votes.
Reacting to the charges of horse trading, senior Congress leader Veeranna Mathikatti said, "We have not moved the Independent MLAs. They came to us with their support. They want protection from horse trading. They will vote for the Congress. The BJP has no moral right to make allegations against us. There is no exchange of money. Congress has not paid any money”.
Congress has fielded three candidates Jairam Ramesh, Oscar Fernandes (bothe former union ministers) and former IPS officer KC Ramamurthy for the Rajya Sabha polls scheduled for June 11 to fill four vacancies. BJP and JDS have fielded Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and BM Farooq, respectively.
The Congress decision to field the third candidate, Ramamurthy, has given jitters to JDS, which needs five additional votes to see its candidate through, as it has only 40 MLAs.
The required strength for victory is 45 votes.
Five JDS MLAs, including Zameer Ahmed, have reportedly decided to back the third candidate of the ruling Congress, which is sure of two seats but falls short of numbers for the third candidate.
Congress has 122 MLAs and needs extra 13 votes to ensure the victory of its third candidate, with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah seeking support of 11 Independents and five JDS rebel legislators.
BJP is also short of one vote, but is confident of filling the numerical gap.
Each MLC candidate needs 29 first preference votes win. The main opposition BJP has 44 MLAs and has the support of three independents. The JDS has 40 MLAs. However five of its MLAs are in talks with the Congress.
(With additional information from PTI)