New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has been nominated for the lone Rajya Sabha seat which the party can bag in Karnataka in the given circumstances after the rebellion which led to the fall of the JDS-Congress alliance government in the state.
Sources say that his closeness to Rahul Gandhi has now paid off. Rajeev Satav had bagged the RS seat from Maharashtra while the party saw the surprise exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia in March which led to the fall of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. He was upset with the party dragging its feet on his nomination as Rahul Gandhi when asked had reacted that "he doesn't decide on Rajya Sabha seats".
Sources say the Congress will give its surplus votes to JDS leader and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda in the event of a contest in Karnataka. Gowda is certain to be the JDS nominee after his loss in the Lok Sabha elections. In return, the JDS will support the Congress candidate in the legislative council polls.
The race between B.K. Hariprasad and Kharge had narrowed and now Sonia Gandhi has taken the final decision on it in favour of the Dalit leader. Hariprasad lost in the final leg of the race to Mallikarjun Kharge because of Kharge being a Dalit and a vociferous voice for the party in the last Lok Sabha. Kharge is in-charge of Maharashtra for the Congress.
Being in-charge of a crucial state could have gone against him but his closeness to Rahul Gandhi has paid off, said sources.
K.H. Muniyappa, a former Union Minister who lost in the Lok Sabha polls, was also eyeing the seat because of his Dalit identity. Former Chief Minister Veerappa Moily had also thrown his hat into the ring, sources said.
In Karnataka the party was decimated in the last Lok Sabha elections with only one candidate winning despite the alliance with the JDS.
The Congress is banking on the OBC and Dalit factor in the state.
The Congress has 68 members in the legislative assembly and can easily have one candidate elected. Each candidate needs 44 votes and the JDS is short by 10 votes while the Congress has a surplus 24 seats. The current arrangement will be limited to the Rajya Sabha and the legislative council polls.