Written byShalini Ojha
Four politicians — JD(S) patriarch and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge, and BJP's Eranna Kadadi and Ashok Gasti — were elected to the Rajya Sabha on Friday unopposed from Karnataka.
Karnataka Legislative Assembly Secretary MK Vishalakshi, who also serves as the returning officer for the Rajya Sabha polls, declared the results after no other candidate challenged their nominations.
The biennial elections were necessitated after Congress' Rajeev Gowda and BK Hari Prasad, BJP's Prabhakar Kore, and D Kupendra Reddy of the JD(S) retired.
A candidate required a minimum of 45 votes for winning.
Congress has 68 MLAs, enough for one member's win. JD(S) has 34 MLAs.
Upon being elected to Rajya Sabha, Kharge, who lost 2019 general elections from Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency to BJP's Umesh Jadhav, expressed gratitude to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul.
He thanked the people of Karnataka and assured he will highlight their issues in the Parliament.
"I hope to live up to their expectations," the 77-year-old told NDTV.
After BJP teased Kharge for entering the Parliament through the backdoor, he replied, "I have won nine Assembly polls on the trot and two consecutive Lok Sabha polls. Let them first get as much political experience as I have done and then they can comment."
To note, Congress and JD(S) forged a post-poll alliance in 2018 after the results of the Karnataka elections ended in a hung Assembly. The allies remained at loggerheads more often than not. The government finally collapsed last year, making way for BJP's rise.
Despite sour relations, Congress lent support to Gowda in these elections to trump up support against the BJP in the Upper House.
87-year-old Gowda, who entered Rajya Sabha for the first time in 1996 as the PM, said Sonia persuaded him.
He decided against contesting elections after last year's Lok Sabha defeat. The requests of party legislators didn't move him either.
"But I agreed when Madam Sonia Gandhi said we were only waiting for your decision. That is why we only sent Kharge's name," he said.
Meanwhile, in the BJP camp, there was some friction between the Central and state leadership over the choice of candidates.
The state unit sent the names like Prabhakar Kore, Ramesh Katti, and Prakash Shetty, but the decision-making body went for relatively new names.
Both Eranna Kadadi and Ashok Gasti have a background of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and have worked at the ground-level.
Playing down the discord, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said, "The BJP leadership, by giving the seat to ordinary party workers, has given a gift. I thank them. Perhaps BJP is the only party that would take such a decision of giving this charge to ordinary members."
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