- BJP had planned to get about 12-15 Congress MLAs to resign and form the government
- Till Saturday, around 12 Congress MLAs had assured they would switch sides, but they backtracked
- State party chief Yeddyurappa is said to have dropped the plan following the development
BENGALURU: BJP suffered a loss of face in
on Wednesday after its efforts to topple the Congress-JD(S) coalition government failed, with disgruntled Congress MLAs developing cold feet at the last moment and not succumbing to the opposition party’s “Operation Lotus”.
This is BJP’s second failed attempt in the past seven months to form government in Karnataka. BJP had planned to get about 12-15 Congress MLAs to resign and form the government.
The party had corralled its MLAs in a hotel near Gurgaon for the last few days besides shifting four Congress MLAs to Mumbai and other places. After realising that the required number of Congress MLAs would not resign, state BJP president BS Yeddyurappa is said to have told party MLAs at the hotel that Operation Lotus had been dropped.
“The party high command wanted no less than 16 Congress-JD(S) MLAs to resign, that too in one go. Till Saturday, around 12 Congress MLAs had assured us they would switch sides, but they backtracked. Hence we have dropped the operation,” Yeddyurappa is said to have told the MLAs.
Upbeat over the development, former CM Siddaramaiah convened a Congress legislature party meeting on Friday to demonstrate unity among the party’s MLAs. In a letter to the MLAs, he said the party would take action under the anti-defection law against those who stay away from the meeting.
“Operation Lotus has failed. It’s a slap on the face of BJP which has been trying to topple the government by illegal means,” Congress general secretary K C Venugopal said.
CM struck deal with rebels with help of Siddaramaiah
The scenario on Wednesday changed dramatically from the previous day, when the Congress-JDS coalition in Karnataka appeared to be on the back-foot in the wake of two Independent MLAs withdrawing support to the HD Kumaraswamy government.
In swift overnight development, Congress-JD(S) leaders managed to win back a majority of disgruntled MLAs with chief minister HD Kumaraswamy himself taking charge of the talks. The CM struck a deal with the rebels with the help of Congress leaders Siddaramaiah, MB Patil, DK Shivakumar, BJ Zameer Ahmed and KJ George. Not only were the rebels persuaded but were also warned on how legal hurdles will stump BJP in the numbers game, leaving the rebels in the lurch, sources said.
A source in Congress said as per the deal, the rebel MLAs were promised a final say in transfers and other matters related to their constituencies with no minister or official coming in the way. “As far as their main demand for a cabinet berth was concerned, they had been asked to wait till an appropriate time,” said a Congress leader.
After fruitful talks, LBP Bheema Naik was the first MLA to come out of hiding. He met Siddaramaiah and Venugopal on Wednesday. “I had gone to Goa with friends. I’m not going to BJP though they have been pestering me to join,” Naik told reporters. Minutes after his return, Pratapagouda Patil, Amaregouda Bayyapur and J N Ganesh also spoke to media clarifying that they were not switching sides.
However, while most rebels have returned, there’s no clarity yet on whether former minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, the mastermind of the rebellion, will patch up with Congress. Along with Ramesh, his confidant and Athani MLA Mahesh Kumatalli, and Ballari MLA B Nagendra are still in Mumbai. Ramesh is reportedly not inclined to call a truce as he feels insulted after being removed from the cabinet and with constant interference by Shivakumar in Belagavi politics.
The CM is said to have assured Ramesh that he would personally ensure that these things are not repeated. “Ramesh and Nagendra will also remain with Congress and you’ll see them in the Congress legislature party meeting on January 18,” said KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao.