Voting is underway in the Rajya Sabha polls for four seats from Karnataka, amid suspense over the fourth seat that has led to a heated contest between the two major opposition parties -- Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular). The HD Kumaraswamy-led party faced a setback after one of its MLAs voted in favour of Congress. The MLA, Srinivas Gowda, also confirmed that he will quit JD(S) and join the Congress.
"I have voted for Congress.. because I love it," Mr Gowda said after casting his vote.
Mr Kumaraswamy, in an interview to NDTV yesterday, accused Congress of having no interest in defeating the BJP candidate.
Six candidates have filed their nominations for the four seats from Karnataka, necessitating a heated contest for the fourth seat.
The JD(S) moved its MLAs to a hotel to prevent poaching allegedly from Congress, which they have accused of playing "dirty politics" to win the elections.
Targeting former Chief Minister and current leader of opposition Siddaramaiah directly, a visibly agitated Mr Kumaraswamy told NDTV that the Congress leader has "a prejudice to see us lose".
The BJP has fielded three candidates, Congress has fielded two candidates, and the Janata Dal (Secular) one. The ongoing tussle between the parties is for the fourth seat.
Asked about its chances in the crucial polls, senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said: 'We will win all three seats including the one contested by our candidate Lehar Singh".
A candidate requires 45 votes 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.
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.
On Thursday, the day ahead of the crucial polls, Siddaramaiah wrote an open letter to JD(S) MLAs requesting them to cast their "conscience vote" in favour of his party's second candidate Mansoor Ali Khan, stating that his win will be a victory of "secular ideology" followed by both parties.