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RS polls in Karnataka: Sting exposes Congress, JD-S offering ‘crores for votes’

A 31-minute sting operation with interviews and quotes of senior politiciansand lawmakers allegedly exposes how votes can be "purchased" through favours in the guise of development

Sting operations on Thursday purportedly showed crores of rupees being “offered” to independent lawmakers in Karnataka to vote for Congress or JD-S nominees in the June 11 Rajya Sabha elections for four seats or legislators from small parties talking about money for their support.

A 31-minute operation, conducted by English channel Times Now over a week recently, with interviews and quotes of senior politicians, lawmakers, ministers and two candidates contesting in the Rajya Sabha polls, allegedly exposes how votes can be “purchased” through favours in the guise of development.

The footage, recorded with open or hidden cameras, has former prime minister and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda, his younger son and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, state cabinet minister D.K. Shivakumar, Congress lawmaker N.A. Harris, Congress nominee K.C. Ramamurthy, JD-S nominee B.M. Farooq and Independents Varthur Prakash, Ashok Kheny and Mankal Vaidya.

Though the expose does not show any cash being offered or exchanged, it claims to reveal that the Congress would give crores of rupees for the development of constituencies represented by the independents across the state.

Meanwhile a few legislators, mostly from smaller parties, were shown talking about exchange of money in lieu of their support in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections in a sting aired by India Today television channel on Thursday.

The sting concerned two legislators from Janata Dal-Secular, one from the Karnataka Janata Paksha and an Independent.

The purported sting showed assembly members and their associates talking about money. One of them is shown asking to be paid over Rs 5 crore. In another case, a relative of a lawmaker is shown talking about money with the team that did the sting.

Two other members of the assembly were also shown talking about money in their conversations.

In view of its comfortable majority (123) in the 225-member legislative assembly, the Congress has fielded three candidates, including two former central ministers Oscar Fernandes and Jairam Ramesh and Ramamurthy, a former IPS officer, who joined the party over a decade ago.

Though election of Fernandes and Ramesh is certain, Ramamurthy needs 12 more votes in addition to 33 surplus votes of his own party to secure 45 votes, required to win the seat.

Similarly, JD-S, which has 40 members in the assembly, requires five more votes to ensure Farooq’s victory.

With five JD-S ‘rebel’ lawmakers threatening to vote for Ramamurthy in defiance of the party’s decree, Farooq’s chances appear grim unless he gets the required votes from independents or surplus votes of Congress members.

As the main opposition party, the BJP is sitting pretty, with 44 members and its twin regional allies BSR-C and KJP, assuring it of their five members support for its candidate – Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

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