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Published On: Mon, Jan 14th, 2019

Fresh attempts to topple Kumaraswami Govt. in Karnataka, 100 BJP MLAs camp in Delhi,5 Of Congress ‘Missing’

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kntkaNEW DELHI / BENGALURU :Is the BJP making fresh attempts to topple the JD(S)-Congress government in Karnataka through the so-called ‘Operation Kamal’? BJP sources not only confirm that plans are afoot to poach disgruntled Congress MLAs, but also claim there’s a general election link to the move. They say that if all goes according to plan, the state will have a new government after Makar Sankranti.
New political turbulence in Karnataka has travelled from Bengaluru to Delhi as the BJP flew its 100-odd lawmakers to the capital and then a resort in neighbouring Gurgaon, alleging that Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy was trying to split its ranks.
“The Janata Dal Secular (JDS) wants to break BJP lawmakers. We are united. We will stay in Delhi for one or two days,” said BJP leader and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa. “We are not trying to form an alternative government,” he added, responding to counter-allegations by the Congress that the BJP is trying to do exactly the same.
Congress trouble-shooter and Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar had alleged on Sunday that three of its MLAs had been whisked away by the BJP to Mumbai and are now untraceable. Congress sources claim that the party has foiled at least half a dozen similar attempts by the BJP since forming the government last year. They say BJP is using Congress MLA Ramesh Jharkiholi, who was dropped from the cabinet, to mobilise support. Sources say Jharkiholi is trying to get at least 10 Congress MLAs on his side, but he has been able to get just two so far. One more MLA, Umesh Jadhav from Gulbarga, is also allegedly planning to switch sides, said sources.
Confirming these developments, DK Shivakumar said the BJP was making a desperate attempt to topple the government. A week ago, former chief minister Siddaramaiah had dropped a bombshell claiming that the BJP was offering Rs 30 crore to each MLA who was willing to defect. Since breaking the JD(S) with 37 MLAs is difficult, the BJP seems to be focussing on Congress MLAs from North Karnataka region.
Congress leaders claim that after a severe drubbing in the just-concluded Assembly elections in the Hindi heartland, the BJP had halted ‘Operation Kamala’ in Karnataka. But the changing political dynamics in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar seems to be forcing the saffron party to try one more time, they say.Among the “missing” lawmakers is Ramesh Jarakiholi, who was dropped recently by Mr Kumaraswamy in a cabinet shuffle. The others are Anand Singh, B Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav and BC Patil.
The Congress says a group of “missing” lawmakers is proof that the BJP has launched “Operation Lotus”. The term was first used in 2008, when the BJP was accused of inciting several opposition legislators to defect to ensure the stability of its government headed by Mr Yeddyurappa. In the 224-member Karnataka Assembly, the JDS-Congress combine has 118 lawmakers, more than the majority mark of 113. The BJP has 104 lawmakers and is far short of the required numbers.

“Karnataka is a cash cow for any party in New Delhi. By toppling the government ahead of Lok Sabha elections, the BJP is trying to choke Congress and JD(S) resources,” said a Congress leader from the state. JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda and his CM-son HD Kumaraswamy have expressed confidence that the BJP will fail once again in its attempt. A worried Congress, meanwhile, is trying to reach out to fence-sitters and disgruntled MLAs, promising them plum posts.

However, state BJP president Yeddyurappa has rubbished the reports, claiming the party is not making any efforts to topple the government. In the 224-member Karnataka Assembly, the Congress has 80 MLAs, the JD(S) has 37, BSP one and two are Independents, who together constitute the ruling coalition.
Karnataka, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader BS Yeddyurappa is said to have rounded up all the saffron party MLAs in the state and the delegation was reportedly heading towards an “undisclosed” location in Haryana. This comes after the Congress-JD(S) government in the state alleged that the BJP was trying to “poach” its MLAs.
Karnataka Water Resources Minister DK Shivakumar had alleged on Sunday that the BJP was indulging in horse-trading and had also “lured” three of its MLAs to a Mumbai hotel. He had also claimed that the BJP’s ‘Operation Lotus’ was real and that the saffron party was planning to overthrow the HD Kumaraswamy’s government.
‘Operations Lotus’ referred to BJP’s alleged move to get some of the Opposition MLAs to defect in 2008 in order to ensure that the then Yeddyurappa government was not challenged. Karnataka: BJP’s Yeddyurappa denies claims of poaching MLAs, says ‘CM Kumaraswamy is doing horse-trading’

Meanwhile, the BJP has denied allegations of horse-trading and instead blamed the Congress and JD(S) of trying to poach its MLAs. Former Karnataka CM and BJP leader Yeddyurappa said that Kumaraswamy had offered money and a ministerial post to BJP’s Kalaburgi MLA. “Despite being the CM of Karnataka, he is doing horse-trading. He promised money and ministership to our Kalaburgi MLA, that’s why we are here showing unity,” Yeddyurappa said on Monday. Till Monday afternoon, Yeddyurappa and other BJP MLAs were in the national capital.

Incidentally, some of the Congress-JD(S) MLAs were also said to be in Delhi on Monday and were reportedly supposed to meet BJP leaders on January 19, sources told today.  “Our high command thinks that if the JD(S)-Congress fight together in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP will be in trouble.
Winning maximum number of seats from Karnataka is very important. It can happen only if we have our own government in the state. Once they lose power, the JD(S) may go solo or may even join NDA for its survival. The Congress will be demoralised. That’s why our leaders are making a serious effort one last time,” said a senior BJP MLA.
The BJP has 104 MLAs. At least 14 MLAs will have to resign to bring the House strength down to ensure BJP’s elevation to power.  But the Congress alleges it is trying, which is the reason five of its lawmakers have gone AWOL. Mr Kumaraswamy claims they are in a Mumbai hotel and in touch with him. “All of them (Congress MLAs) are continuously in contact with me. They went to Mumbai after informing me. My government isn’t under any threat,” the Chief Minister said indignantly.
Mr Kumaraswamy, who took charge as chief minister in May after his Janata Dal Secular and the Congress formed an alliance, added: “I know who all the BJP is trying to contact and what they’re offering. I can handle it.” His deputy G Parameshwara of the Congress echoed him: “Some of our MLAs have gone, they can go for temples, holiday, family outings, we don’t know. All our MLAs are intact.”( With Inputs From Bangaluru ).

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