BJP sources appear confident that they can engineer at least 15 abstentions from the Assembly on the day of the trust vote.

Explainer BJPs Operation Lotus in 2008 and what version 20 will be
Karnataka Elections Karnataka 2018 Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 16:49

As Karnataka’s political scene has plunged into uncertainty, a lot of people can be heard asking, ‘Can BJP get the magic number?’ Well, it’s not that simple.

The BJP which currently has 104 MLAs on its side cannot win the trust vote by simply weaning away nine MLAs from JD(S) or Congress. If these MLAs vote against their party whip, anti-defection law would apply.

Anti-defection law

Schedule 10 of the Constitution is popularly known as the anti-defection law. Under this law, an MLA or an MP who votes against the ‘whip’ will be disqualified from the House. A ‘whip’ is a party directive on which way the MLAs and MPs must vote – and anyone who goes against it will face action.

How the BJP circumvented this in 2008

In 2008, BS Yeddyurappa was the BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate and had contested elections asking people to help him level scores with HD Kumaraswamy. The latter had reneged on his deal to handover the CM chair to Yeddyurappa in October 2007. The two parties had agreed in February 2006 that they would form a coalition in which HD Kumaraswamy would be CM for 20 months and Yeddyurappa for the next 20 months.

Yeddyurappa’s emotional appeal worked, and the BJP won 110 seats, but were still 3 seats short of majority. They managed to win over five independent MLAs but the party wanted to further bolster it numbers.

BS Yeddyurappa and Janardhana Reddy managed to convince seven MLAs, four from the JD(S) and three from the Congress, to resign. They then contested bye-polls in December 2008.

On December 30, 2008, the results of the seven bye-elections came in. The BJP had won five seats and the JD(S) secured two victories. This took the BJP’s number in the Assembly to 115 – 120, if one counted the number of independents supporting them.

Various BJP ministers quit and the new entrants were inducted into the cabinet. Other than ministership, there were rumours that each of the MLAs had been given crores of rupees.

By making defectors resign, the BJP circumvented the anti-defection law in 2008 – and they have done it many times since in Karnataka, even in local body polls.

What will happen in 2018?

BJP sources appear confident that they can engineer at least 15 abstentions from the Assembly on the day of the trust vote. This would bring down the number in the Assembly and thereby the halfway mark will also come down.

A BJP source told TNM that abstention would be their first choice, but if needed, the defector MLAs will be convinced to resign and contest in bye-elections.

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