Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said on Friday that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ‘Operation Lotus’ is still on alleging that the saffron party approached a Congress MLA with money on Thursday night.
“Operation Kamala (Lotus) is still on. Last night they (BJP) offered one of our MLAs huge amount of money. You’ll be surprised to know the amount,” he said on Friday without revealing the name of the MLA.
“Our MLA told them he doesn’t need any gift and not to try these things with him,” Kumaraswamy, the Janata Dal (Secular) leader, said.
“This is how they are still working on poaching,” Kumaraswamy alleged.
Rejecting the Karnataka CM’s allegation, state BJP president and former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa said that it is the MLAs from the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition who are trying to leave their parties due to infighting.
“We aren’t indulging in any Operation Kamala. Their MLAs are trying to go away from them due to their internal fight,” Yeddyurappa said, adding, “It’s their duty to keep them intact.”
The BJP leader was referring to the recent brawl in a Bengaluru resort between two Congress MLAs, which left one of them hospitalised.
“They should stop giving baseless statements against us. We are 104 (MLAs) and 2 independent MLAs are also in opposition,” the 75-year-old Yeddyurappa said.
Operation Lotus is a reference to the BJP allegedly luring several opposition MLAs to defect to ensure stability of its then-government headed by BS Yeddyurappa in Karnataka in 2008.
Both the Congress-JD(S) alliance and the BJP have been accusing each other of trying to poach MLAs. The alliance partners have been the BJP of trying to destabilise the state government.
An apprehensive Congress had called in a CLP meeting on 18 January after some ‘rebel’ Congress MLAs went incommunicado. Following the meeting the party packed off 76 of its 80 MLAs to a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Four Congress leaders had not attended the CLP meeting.
On the other hand, all the MLAs of the BJP were stationed in Gurugram.
“Despite having majority, the Congress-JD(S) combine is trying to lure our MLAs and indulging in horse-trading; BJP is not doing it. We with 104 MLAs are ready to work as opposition peacefully,” Yeddyurappa told reporters on 14 January in New Delhi.
He had accused Kumaraswamy of trying to lure BJP leaders with “money and minister’s position”.
In the 225-member Karnataka Legislative Assembly, the BJP has 104 members, Congress 80, JD(S) 37, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), KPJP and Independent one each.
The KPJP and the Independent MLAs withdrew support to the coalition government on 15 January.