Shakuntala fails to make it to RS
Contrary to the expectations of throwing up a tough fight, Monday’s biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha turned out to be a one-sided contest with BJP candidate and former chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde’s wife Shakuntala Hegde losing by a substantial margin to Congress leader B K Hariprasad.
Union Minister Oscar Fernandes (Cong), BJP National President Venkaiah Naidu (BJP), and industrialist M A M Ramaswamy (JD-S) were also elected to the Rajya Sabha as expected in political circles. All the candidates were elected in the first round of counting itself.
Oscar Fernandes (Cong) 46
B K Hariprasad (Cong) 48
Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) 47
M A M Ramaswamy (JD-S) 46
Shakuntala Hegde (BJP) 37
Though there were five candidates in the fray, the actual fight boiled down to Mr Hariprasad and Ms Hegde as the victory of other candidates had been assured.
Ultimately, Mr Hariprasad secured 48 against the required victory margin of 45 votes, while Ms Hegde managed to get only 37.
The BJP needed only six votes from other parties and independents to ensure Ms Hegde’s victory, while the Congress needed votes of 12 independents for Mr Hariprasad’s victory. But, Mr Hariprasad managed to win the support of all the 12 independents and 5 members of small parties leaving no chance for the BJP candidate.
In fact, the trends started emerging even before noon as the open ballot system made it mandatory for the party candidates to show their ballot papers to the party agents before dropping them into the ballot boxes.
Though there is no such rule for independents, all of them showed their ballot papers to the Congress agents barring two members — Vatal Nagaraj and Jayaprakash Hegde.
In fact, there were tense moments for the BJP when the members of its ally JD (U) made it wait for four hours before turning up at the polling station. There were also rumours that some of the JD (U) members may vote for Mr Hariprasad. However, all the JD (U) members voted in favour of Ms Shakuntala Hegde.
Ms Hegde, who came to Vidhana Soudha along with her family members to make a last-minute appeal to the voters, left soon after, leaving it to her son Bharat Hegde to monitor things. But, a disappointed Mr Bharat also left even before counting of votes started. Even as polling was going on, he told reporters that it would have been a befitting homage to Mr Ramakrishna Hegde if Ms Hegde had been elected unanimously by all the parties. He said it was he and his family members who persuaded Ms Hegde to contest the RS polls.
Meanwhile, Hegde supporters were angry at the BJP following Ms Hegde’s defeat. They alleged that the BJP leaders had not made any concrete efforts to woo the support of other parties. But Mr Venkaiah Naidu said: “We can only appeal to independents and other parties to support us, but we cannot do anything if they don’t oblige.” BJP senior leader B S Yediyurappa even alleged that the Congress-JD (S) combine had resorted to horse-trading to defeat Ms Hegde.
The polling, which commenced at 9 am in the morning, went on at a brisk pace and was complete by afternoon ahead of the 4 pm deadline. Nearly 175 MLAs, of the total 224, had exercised their franchise within two hours of the commencement of polling. Mr Oscar Fernandes secured 46 votes, Venkaiah Naidu 47 and M A M Ramaswamy 46. The Congress leaders said the victory of their candidates had shown that the coalition partners were united.
BJP combine 84
JD (S) 58