Hema Malini set to be elected to RS from Karna

With numbers in her favour, "Dream girl" Hema Malini appears set to be elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka.

Bangalore: With numbers in her favour, "Dream
girl" Hema Malini appears set to be elected to the Rajya Sabha
from Karnataka on Thursday.

The BJP candidate is facing litterateur Prof K
Marulasiddappa, who is contesting as an independent backed by
opposition Congress and JD(S), as the stage is set for the
bye-elections to the Upper House.

Ruling BJP has a strength of 107, including Speaker K G
Bopaiah and Varthur Prakash, an independent, as against 98 by
the combined opposition (Congress - 71, JDS -27) in the
206-member truncated House.

The single nominated member can`t vote in Rajya Sabha
election while 19 seats are vacant.

BJP and Congress have issued whips to their MLAs to cast
their first preferential vote to Hema Malini and
Marulasiddappa respectively while JDS is slated to do so in
the morning.

If all 205 members cast their votes, the winning candidate
would require to poll 104. The possibility of cross-voting has
been ruled out because the members would have to show their
ballot to their party agent before putting them in the boxes.
So, the outcome of the bypoll seems to be a foregone
conclusion if one were to go by the numbers. The winner`s term
would end on April two next year.

Marulasiddappa, a former Chairman of Karnataka Nataka
Academy, has sought to invoke the Kannadiga self-pride and
positioned his candidature as one to protect the interests of
the state and uphold the honour and dignity of Kannada.

Several eminent writers and artistes of Karnataka have
thrown their weight behined Marulasiddappa, appealing to MLAs
to vote for him cutting across party lines.

The opposition camp tried to project Hema Malini as an
"outsider" but that campaign seems to have failed to cut much
ice among the electorate.

The veteran actress has sought to shrug off her "outsider
tag". "I do not understand why some people are treating me as
an outsider. As an artiste, I belong to everybody", Hema
Malini told reporters here last evening.

She said she had campaigned for party candidates in the Lok
Sabha and Assembly elections in Karnataka.

"It`s not a new place for me. I will strive for the welfare
of the people and development of the state", she said.

The Bollywood blockbuster "Sholay" in which she played
the part of a tough village damsel,`Basanti` opposite
Dharmendra, was shot in the hillocks of Ramanagara, some 60 km
from here.

When Hema Malini`s candidature was announced by the BJP
central leadership, it came as a surprise to the state unit
which had been pushing the case of former Union Minister of
State for Finance V Dhananjaya Kumar.

Though there were reports of resentment in the party about
her candidature initially, the state leadership appeared to
have put a lid on the discontent.

The bye-election was caused by the death of former Union
Minister M Rajasekhara Murthy.