Jnanpeeth awardee's candidature ensures contest in RS polls
Bangalore, Mar 26: A keen contest is on the cards for the March 28 biennial elections to four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka, following the presence of three independent candidates, including Jnanpeeth awardee U R Ananthamurthy, in the fray.
The election was necessitated by the retirement of Messrs K Rahman Khan, K B Krishnamurthy and Bimba Raikar (all Congress) and former Union Minister M Rajasekhara Murthy (now JD-S). While the Congress had favoured Mr Khan seeking re-election, Mr Murthy, who had joined the JD(S) recently, was backed by former Prime Minister and JD(S) President H D Deve Gowda. The Bharatiya Janata Party had fielded K B Shanappa as its candidate.
While the candidates of the three parties were likely to have a cakewalk, given the parties' strength in the Assembly, a three-cornered tussle was expected for the fourth seat.
Coalition partners JD(S) and BJP have backed industrialist Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Jupiter Capital. The faction, led by former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, and some independents have thrown their weight behind eminent litterateur U R Ananthamurthy. Another industrialist Mike Mallappa was also in the fray.
The presence of Dr Ananthamurthy and Mr Mallappa in the fray had led to a contest, which would have otherwise ensured that all the candidates were elected unopposed. The JD(S) faction, led by Mr Siddaramaiah, chose to field the noted writer after the Congress had decided against fielding its second candidate at the eleventh hour.
Dr Ananthamurthy pinned his hopes on the conscience factor and urged the Legislators to vote for him to discourage people from outside the State getting elected, thus indirecty hitting at Mr Chandrasekhar. But the industrialist was quick to rebut his charge, stating that he too was a Kannadiga and had been living in Bangalore for nearly three decades. Moreover, his wife and children were born and brought up in the city.
Dr Ananthamurthy had also called on Mr Gowda and sought support, recollecting his contribution to the party at the time of preparing the party's election manifesto for the last general elections.
However, the nomination of Dr Ananthamurthy did not go down well with Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who questioned the celebrated litterateur's contribution to the development of Kannada. He had never worked in that direction and kept mum when the issue of classical status to Kannada came up, he recalled.
Though a section of the Congress leaders favoured Dr Ananthamurthy's election, the party high command had still not responded positively to his letter, seeking support. His candidature had also drawn protest from his own literary community.
Mr Siddarmaiah had declared that he would defy any whip issued by the JD(S) Legislature Party and vote for Dr Ananthamurthy. The All India Progressive Janata Dal (AIPJD) leader, despite parting ways with the JD(S) leadership, technically remained a JD(S) member in the House.
According to existing laws, the Siddaramaiah camp, comprising nine MLAs, would attract disqualification if they violated the party whip. The faction wanted to utilise the surplus votes of the Congress, two votes of Maharashtra Ekikarana Samiti, five votes of Independents and Janata Dal (United), besides some JD(S) members to ensure victory for Dr Ananthamurthy.
With only two days left for the elections, it remains to be seen whether the polls would wipe out Dr Ananthamurthy's political ambitions or allow him to taste success.