BENGALURU: Well before half a dozen independent MLAs left for Mumbai on Sunday night, leaders of BJP not only managed to get hold of them but also extracted an assurance of support for their second candidate, Lehar Singh, ahead of polls to the Legislative Council on Friday.
Sources in the party described it as a clincher. The party has already put in place a fail-safe strategy for Rajya Sabha polls to ensure a smooth sail for Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Though her victory was certain, the leaders have reportedly approached independent MLA Haladi Srinivasa Shetty. Mr. Shetty has promised to support BJP candidates in elections to both Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Council. State unit president B. S. Yeddyurappa and Udupi Chikkamagaluru MP Shobha Karandlaje had approached Mr. Shetty for his support.
Besides one independent MLA's support, the BJP seems to be certain of securing the support of BSR Congress MLAs Suresh Babu and Negendra for Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman and Mr Lehar Singh.
Even former minister Gali Janardhana Reddy reportedly assured the BJP that he would ensure the support of two BSR Congress MLAs. With this, the BJP’ tally would go up to 47 votes as against 45 votes required for the minister’s victory.
In the Legislative Council, however, the party required 29 votes for Mr Lehar Singh’s victory. Therefore, the leaders made an effort to garner the support of five JD(S) rebel MLAs and independent MLAs. Party sources said that if Mr. Singh could secure 22 first preference votes, he would be able to sail through with the help of second preference votes. Therefore, the leaders have already directed their MLAs to ensure that second preference votes should be passed on to the second candidate.
Sources said Mr Yeddyurappa also has a plan ‘B’ to ensure the victory of his diehard supporter Mr Lehar Singh by seeking surplus votes of Congress if required. As Mr. Arun Kumar has withdrawn from the contest, the Congress has three to four surplus votes in its pocket after electing its four candidates. With both Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and energy minister D.K. Shivakumar determined to ensure the defeat of Janata Dal (Secular) in both Rajya Sabha and Council polls, the BJP would stand to benefit, sources added....