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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.