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BJP's 'Operation Lotus 3.0' May Not be About Toppling Karnataka Govt, But Delegitimising Coalitions

Denying power to JDS and Congress closer to Lok Sabha elections is more important for BJP's strategy than installing its government ahead of 2019 polls, political observer said.

D P Satish | CNN-News18dp_satish

Updated:January 15, 2019, 4:51 PM IST
BJP's 'Operation Lotus 3.0' May Not be About Toppling Karnataka Govt, But Delegitimising Coalitions
File photo of BS Yeddyurappa (L) with BJP chief Amit Shah.

Bengaluru: The fresh political turbulence in Karnataka has led to allegations and counter-allegations of poaching from the two opposing camps flying over the last two days, but the BJP’s new game plan may not be about toppling the Congress-JDS government at all.

Although sources in the BJP say that the party is making one final attempt to dislodge the HD Kumaraswamy government before the Lok Sabha elections, political observers feel these are just mind games and the party hopes this strategy would pay dividends somewhere else – the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh in the general elections.

The basis of this belief is in the numbers - since getting 15 Congress and one JDS MLA on their side will be difficult.

The political analysts argue that the BJP high command is trying to create a constitutional crisis in Karnataka, forcing the Governor to keep the state assembly under suspended animation till the Lok Sabha elections get over by sending its MLAs out of the state.

Making Yeddyurappa the CM may not be the main purpose of the latest attempt. Denying power to JDS and Congress closer to Lok Sabha elections is more important than installing a BJP government, they said.

By toppling the coalition, the BJP can tell the voters that the SP and BSP alliance in UP will also meet with the same fate if voted to power. It will also choke Congress' resources giving an upper hand to BJP.

At least 99 out of the total 104 BJP MLAs in the state are currently being kept at a resort in Gurgaon near Delhi, fearing “poaching attempts by JDS and Congress”. Yeddyurappa claims that he is protecting them from the Kumaraswamy government.

Despite CM HD Kumaraswamy describing the BJP’s latest attempt as 'Operation Lotus 3.0', it was business as usual at the house of JDS supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda on Sankranti day. The 86-year-old was in a relaxed mood and received greetings from family and friends.

'Operation Lotus' refers to BJP's successful poaching of MLAs from other parties during BS Yeddyurappa's first stint as CM.

With a broad smile, Gowda dismissed the possibility of BJP toppling his son HD Kumaraswamy-led JDS-Congress government in Karnataka. Speaking to News18, he said, "This is not the first time they are doing it. Let them try again. Yeddyurappa is desperate for power. But he will fail miserably".

He termed BJP's allegations of JDS and Congress trying to poach its MLAs as a joke and said that BJP was indeed trying to lure Congress MLAs.

"I was told that they are offering huge money etc. In a democracy such things should be discouraged. What have we come to?" he asked.

But the situation at the coalition partner Congress camp is entirely different. Worried over disappearance of four of its MLAs, the Congress is in damage-control mode.

The party general secretary in charge of Karnataka, KC Venugopal, landed in Bengaluru on Monday morning and held an emergency meeting with state leaders including KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao, deputy CM Dr. G Parameshwara and former CM Siddaramaiah to chalk out Congress' counter strategy.

Four Congress ministers even offered to resign to make way for disgruntled MLAs who are being wooed by the BJP.

It seems the JDS feels that saving the coalition government is the responsibility of Congress and they are not ready to break their heads over it. According to insiders, except one JDS MLA, all the others on BJP's "shopping" list are from the Congress.

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