Congress MLA and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) Women’s Morcha President Laxmi Hebbalkar on Friday claimed that she was offered Rs 30 crore in cash as well as a ministerial berth by the BJP.
“I was offered Rs 30 crore in cash and a cabinet berth by the BJP leadership which attempted to rope me in as part of Operation Lotus,’’ she said.
Hebbalkar claimed that a woman BJP leader contacted her over the phone in May and made the offer. However, she flatly rejected the offer and replied that she was a disciplined worker of the Congress party and would never yield to any offers.
While speaking to reporters in Belagavi, Hebbalkar said that the offer was made to her over the phone when she was in Hyderabad. The incident happened in May when the Congress had moved all its MLAs to Hyderabad to protect them from being poached by the BJP as part of Operation Lotus, she claimed.
Hebbalkar also said, “One of the Union ministers from Karnataka contacted my sister and other family members, requesting them to persuade me.”
However, with Hebbalkar refusing to reveal the names of the BJP leaders who made the alleged offer, Rajya Sabha member Prabhakar Kore threw her an open challenge and dared her to disclose the names.
Hebbalkar said that she had brought the issue to the notice of the senior party leadership, including then KPCC President G Parameshwara.
With Hebbalkar coming out with the revelation four months after the incident, the timing of her claim has aroused suspicion in political circles.
It may be recalled that Hebbalkar’s group had recently won the election to the PLD Bank President’s post in Belagavi, where it defeated the group headed by minister Ramesh Jarkiholi and his brother Satish. Following this, the Jarkiholi brothers had threatened to withdraw support to the coalition government.