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Karnataka Bypolls: Fearing Defeat, BJP Attempting 'Operation Lotus' Again, Claims Congress

The principal opposition party claimed that the disqualified MLAs, who defected from the Congress and the JDS to bring down the coalition government and are now contesting on BJP tickets, have attempted to return to the party from which they earlier defected.

Revathi Rajeevan | CNN-News18

Updated:December 3, 2019, 11:42 PM IST
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Karnataka Bypolls: Fearing Defeat, BJP Attempting 'Operation Lotus' Again, Claims Congress
Bengaluru: Congress party workers celebrate their win in Karnataka Urban Local Body Election 2018, in Mysuru on Wednesday, Sept 3, 2018. (PTI Photo) (PTI9_3_2018_000138B)

Bengaluru: Ahead of crucial bypolls in 15 constituencies of Karnataka, the Congress has accused the BJP of attempting another round of 'Operation Kamala' to get more MLAs to defect as the saffron party is unsure of getting the required numbers. The Congress also claims that the disqualified MLAs contesting on BJP tickets have attempted to return to the party from which they earlier defected.

"Already, the BJP has started saying they are in touch with our MLAs. I know four MLAs who were contacted by the BJP. They know they can't get a majority, so they are doing another 'Operation Kamala'," said Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao.

'Operation Kamala' is a term used to describe the alleged poaching of MLAs of other parties by the BJP.

"They are using the same method — promising money and positions in the Cabinet," said Rao.

"If it (poaching) repeats, we will not spare you. They (BJP) know they will lose in the bypolls. If they indulge in 'Operation Kamala' again, leave alone the Congress, the people will chase and beat them up. Don't indulge in such undemocratic things," he said.

Rao claimed that three of the 17 disqualified MLAs — ST Somashekhar, Byrathi Basavaraj and Munirathna — contacted his party leaders about wanting to return to the Congress.

"They were senior leaders in the Congress. But now they have no respect in the BJP. We will not take them back now," he said.

The principal opposition party also claimed that the BJP is spending about Rs 1,000 crore in "corrupt money" for the bypolls.

The BJP has expressed confidence about winning a majority in the bypolls. Referring to the MLAs from the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) who defected to the BJP, MP Shobha Karandlaje dismissed allegations of 'Operation Kamala' and said they had switched sides after being impressed by the work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The bypolls to the 15 constituencies was necessitated after 17 MLAs resigned in July leading to the fall of the previous Congress-JDS coalition government in the state. The lawmakers were disqualified by the then Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar for the rest of the term, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court that, however, struck down the term of disqualification.

The BJP needs to win at least six seats in the bypolls to 15 constituencies to remain in a majority in the 224-member assembly, which will still have two vacant seats — Maski and RR Nagar.

Congress confident of winning

Expressing confidence that voters would favour the Congress, Rao said people would defeat the disqualified legislators, who are BJP candidates, thus ensuing the "cleansing" of politics in the state.

"Which party forms the government or not is not important. The result should uphold the pride of the state.. voters should send a message that they will not tolerate such filthy politics, by rejecting and defeating disqualified," he said.

On the possibility of the Congress again joining hands with JD(S) to form a government after the bypolls if the BJP fell short of a majority, Rao said their primary focus was to defeat the BJP and the defectors.

"What happens after that we will discuss and decide as and when the situation arises," he said.

Rao also alleged that the BJP government, after coming to power, had not taken any pro-public measures and was only busy recovering money it had invested in 'Operation Kamala'.

"The government has limited itself to transfers, contractor commissions... Hundreds of crores of rupees was used for 'Operation Kamala' to poach 17 legislators.. it is not easy. According to a calculation, over Rs 20 crore was spent on each as claimed in one of the audio tapes. So, a total of about Rs 400-500 crore would have been spent," he said.

The BJP has no issues to fight the polls and so is spending between Rs 50 crore to Rs 60 crore to bribe voters, he alleged. They had also put pressure on candidates of other parties (JDS) to withdraw in Athani and Hirekerur, he said.

The bypolls will be held on December 5 and results will be declared four days later.

(With inputs from PTI)

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| Edited by: Moonmoon Ghosh
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