With less than 24 hours to go before the Rajya Sabha polls, one seat in Karnataka is still wide open as neither of the two major opposition parties -- Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) -- is ready to blink on an arrangement to defeat the BJP nominee. JD(S) chief HD Kumaraswamy has in fact accused the Congress of "dirty politics" and said they had to move their MLAs to a hotel to prevent poaching.
Six candidates have filed their nominations for the Rajya Sabha poll for four seats from Karnataka, necessitating a heated contest for the fourth seat.
Targeting former Chief Minister and current leader of opposition Siddaramaiah directly, a visibly agitated Mr Kumaraswamy said the Congress leader has no interest in defeating the BJP candidate and only has a grudge against the JD(S). "He has a prejudice to see us lose," Mr Kumarasamy told NDTV. He had earlier today strongly urged the Congress to support his party candidate to strengthen "secular forces".
45 votes are needed to win in the Rajya Sabha polls. The BJP can comfortably win two seats and the Congress one based on their current strength.
However, for the fourth seat, the BJP is left with 32 and the Congress with 24. JD(S) also has 32.
Despite not having an adequate number of votes to win the fourth seat, all three parties have fielded candidates.
Mr Kumaraswamy said his party had requested Congress for second preferential votes to his candidate. Even 22 of these votes from MLAs of the grand old party will put his candidate in the leading position for the elimination round, he claimed.
"I had requested Congress that if you want to defeat BJP, support us and back our candidate. But Siddaramaiah wanted us to withdraw our candidate," the JD(S) chief alleged.
While slamming the state leaders of the Congress, Mr Kumaraswamy has better hopes from the national leadership.
"To defeat the BJP, Congress should support JD(S) which has more votes than it. There is no doubt that history and people will decide in future based on the outcome of this election result. I firmly believe that honourable Randeep Singh Surjewala (AICC General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka) will understand this point," he told news agency PTI.
Both parties have vowed to defeat the BJP, but neither is ready to pull out of the race. Mr Kumarasamy questioned why it should be his party to back out when they have more MLAs left for the seat than Congress, and thus a higher chance to win.
Congress has, however, made it clear that it was now time for the JD(S) to return a favour, pointing out that former prime minister HD Deve Gowda got elected to Rajya Sabha last time with its support in June 2020.
Mr Kumarasamy has contested this claim, saying it wasn't the Congress but the then Chief Minister from the BJP BS Yediyurappa who helped by not nominating anyone from his party. "Had the BJP contested, Congress would have definitely contested too. I know their nature," he said.
The JD(S) chief clarified that he won't align with either BJP or the Congress as "people are fed up" with both parties.
He also hinted that Congress might be trying to get JD(S) MLAs to crossvote. "Because of Congress's dirty politics, we have moved our MLAs to a hotel," he said.
While making a case for the Congress to support his candidate, he did not hold back on blasting it along with the BJP. He said the people have decided to oust both parties in the assembly elections next year.
Voting for Rajya Sabha seats will be held on June 10. The counting of votes will take place the same day at 5 pm.