The ruling BJP in Karnataka has shortlisted three names for the June 19 biennial elections to four Rajya Sabha seats from the southern state, a party source said on Saturday.
"The party's state unit core committee has shortlisted outgoing member Prabkhar Kore, Ramesh Katti and Prakash Shetty to contest in the Rajya Sabha biennial elections for 2 or 3 seats," the source told IANS, on the condition of anonymity.
The party's state unit president Nalin Kumar Kateel will forward the names to the party's high command in New Delhi for selecting the candidates.
"In the event of the high command deciding to contest the third seat, Shetty is likely to be fielded, as Kore and Katti have been cleared for two seats the party is set to win in view of its strength (116 legislators) in the 225-member state assembly," the source pointed out.
With each candidate requiring 44 votes to win, the BJP will have 28 surplus votes and support of 2 Independents to contest the third seat, but will require 14 more votes to win it.
Names of outsiders like eminent banker K.V. Kamath and Infosys Foundation chairperson Sudha Murthy were not considered by the committee, in which Kateel, state Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and party's national General Secretary B.L. Santosh are the members.
"Even names of Tejaswani Ananth Kumar or party's general secretary P. Muralidhar Rao were also not considered," said the source.
With the term of the 4 members, including 2 from the Congress (B.K. Hariprasad and Rajeev Gowda) and one each from the BJP (Kore) and Janata Dal-Secular (Kupendra Reddy) ending on June 25, the Election Commission on June 1 notified the bypoll in the state on June 19, with the last date for nominations on June 9. Vote count is on June 19.
Kore has been in the Upper House for two terms so far.
Ramesh Katti, younger brother of 8-time BJP legislator Umesh Katti, was the party's Lok Sabha member from Chikkodi in the state's northwest region from 2009-14.
Katti's nomination to the Rajya Sabha was one of the demands of the party's rebels, led by Umesh and senior legislator Basanagouda Patil Yatnal.
In the 225-member assembly, the opposition Congress has 68 seats, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) 34, Independents 2, Bhujan Samaj Party 1, Speaker 1 and vacant 2.
"In the past too, candidates of ruling parties and independents got elected to the Rajya Sabha due to cross-voting or with the support of all legislators, the source recalled, hinting the possibility of cross-voting again in the event of a contest for the 4th seat this time.
With the opposition Congress nominating its veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge to contest in the Rajya Sabha bypoll, the party has hinted at giving its 24 surplus votes to JD-S supreme H.D. Deve Gowda if the former prime minister decides to contest.
With only 34 members, a JD-S candidate will require 10 more votes to win the Rajya Sabha seat. The regional party is unlike to field its outgoing member Reddy for the second term.
"By deliberately fielding a third candidate, the BJP wants to queer the pitch and keep Gowda out of contest, fearing cross-voting and loss of face in the event of losing the battle of ballots," a political analyst told IANS here.
Gowda, 87, lost in the May 2019 general elections from Tumkur to the BJP, though his grandson Prajwal Gowda won from the JD-S bastion Hassan, defeating A. Manju of the BJP.
Of the 12 Rayja Sabha seats from the southern state, the BJP has three members - Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, industrialist Rajeev Chandrashekhar and noted educationist K.C. Ramamurthy, who defected from the Congress and got re-elected unopposed on December 5, 2019 as a BJP nominee, as his term is till June 2022.
The opposition Congress has 5 members in the Upper House from the state - Oscar Fernandes, Jairam Ramesh, Syed Naseer Hussain, L.Hanumanthaiah and G.C. Chandrashekar.
Kharge and Hariprasad lost in the May 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Gulabarga (reserved) and Bangalore South seats to the BJP's Umesh Yadav and Tejasvi Surya.