“BJP will come to power. We have the people's mandate. We will come to power in Karnataka,” BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa's words had echoed in the Karnataka Assembly in May 2018. Days later, the tag of a 'two-day Chief Minister' stuck to him.
Now, BS Yeddyurappa is back to try and poach Congress and JD(S) MLAs to bring down the government in Karnataka. Sources with the JD(S) say that the BJP had contacted several JD(S) leaders and had promised them hefty sums of money to defect.
"Our party leaders have been approached by BJP. They have been offered plum posts and huge amounts of money to vote in favour of the BJP. But our leaders have refused. If they can stoop to such levels even we can. We have also been in touch with BJP leaders who are willing to offer their support," the JDS source added.
JD(S) insiders say that the party is in touch with around eight BJP leaders as a counter to the BJP's poaching operation.
With 106 seats currently, BJP still does not have the numbers to bring down the government. BJP insiders say that Yeddyurappa is scrambling to get Congress and JD(S) MLAs to refrain from voting, in case of a trust vote.
"There are only a handful of leaders now. When Yeddyurappa approached Amit Shah with the idea, he was instructed to gather 20 MLAs. Amit Shah said the party would not support the operation otherwise. This may seem like a big number but bringing down a government is not easy and Amit Shah wants bargaining chips," a BJP source told TNM.
The BJP source added that if push comes to shove, the party's national leadership is also looking at holding talks with JD(S) and support JD(S) from outside.
"BJP is willing to form a coalition with JDS if Deve Gowda refrains from indulging in dynasty politics. JD(S) does not want Yeddyurappa to become the CM. That's why Amit Shah wants 20 MLAs in order to bargain for a better deal if need be. Going for a trust vote and forming a government is not so easy. There will be bye-polls and if the BJP does not win there the whole operation would end up failing," the BJP source added.
Currently, the BJP claims to have the support of 7 Congress MLAs who have been lodged at the Renaissance Hotel in Mumbai. The party has also managed to get the support of KPJP MLA R Shankar and independent MLA H Nagesh, who earlier on Tuesday withdrew their support for the Karnataka government.
BJP sources say that the operation is an uphill task and may or may not succeed. "Yeddyurappa desperately wants to become the chief minister. But there are not too many disgruntled Congress leaders," the source said. With a lot riding on his ability to poach Congress and JD(S) MLAs, will Yeddyurappa succeed or will he fail?