Congress leader and Karnataka Water Resources Minister DK Shivakumar on Sunday claimed that three Congress MLAs are camping in a hotel in Mumbai in the company of BJP leaders. Sources in BJP told TNM that Anand Singh, MLA of Vijayanagara, Nagendra, MLA of Ballari Rural and Ramesh Jarkiholi, MLA of Gokak, are the three MLAs camped in Mumbai.
Shivakumar further added that - Operation Kamala - a bid to upstage the coalition government in the state is currently underway once again threatening the state government. "We have all the information on which Congress MLAs BJP has approached and how much money they have offered. We will expose them thoroughly," he said, as per Times of India.
Shivakumar, is a leader who was credited with keeping the Congress flock together during the vote of confidence against BS Yeddyurappa. A man known for his persuasive tactics, DK Shivakumar is unhappy that Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy is being passive on the issue. "Our Chief Minister is a bit lenient towards the BJP. By ‘lenient’, I mean he is not exposing the facts he knows. All the MLAs have conveyed to the Chief Minister about the ongoing conspiracies. They have also told Siddaramaiah about it. The Chief Minister is adopting a policy of wait and watch. If I was in his place, I would have exposed it within 24 hours,” Shivakumar.
The tactic of taking away leaders from the party in power has been a strategy deployed by BJP in many states in the past. It was previously attempted in Karnataka in 2004 and 2008 and has over the years earned the tag 'Operation Kamala', in reference to the BJP's lotus symbol.
The BJP's state leadership, including MPs and MLAs from the state, are currently in New Delhi to discuss the preparation for Lok Sabha polls. The meeting will continue on Monday in New Delhi and party president Amit Shah is expected to brief them. However, the meeting has also triggered news of the party planning to seize power in the state once again.
In the 2018 State Assembly Elections, the BJP could not form the government in the state in spite of emerging as the single largest party with 104 seats. The magic number in the Karnataka Assembly is 113 and the JD(S)-Congress coalition alliance currently have 120 seats in the state.
The BJP now has to bring down the effective strength of the Assembly in order to form the government. As per anti-defection laws any Congress or JD(S) MLA who votes against their party will be disqualified.
The BJP will now have to bring down the effective strength of the Assembly which means at least 17 MLAs have to resign for the BJP to stake its claim.
Anand Singh is a mining baron and a former minister in the BJP government. He was in the news for failing to turn up at a Congress Legislature Party meeting immediately after the election results were announced in 2018 sparking speculation that he was about to defect to the BJP. Nagendra, also a mining baron, has skipped CLP meetings. most recently in December.
Meanwhile Ramesh Jarkiholi, who gave an ultimatum to the Congress in September threatening to walk out of the party, is miffed at being sidelined by the party's leadership.
Rumours are also rife that several other Congress leaders including R Shankar (Ranebennur), JN Ganesh (Kampli), Mahesh Kumathalli (Athani), K Sudhakar (Chikballapura), BC Patil (Hirekerur) and Prakash Hukkeri (MP from Chikkodi), have been contacted by the BJP in their bid to topple the government. According to sources, Shankar, Ganesh and Mahesh are also in Mumbai.
The BJP believes that the move to disrupt the MLAs, mostly in and around Ballari district, will benefit the party in the long run ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.