BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa, the leader of the Opposition in Karnataka, deflected talk of an operation to upstage the state government but expressed confidence that the government will not last much longer while speaking at a special meeting organised by the party in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
The meeting, which comes one week after the national executive meeting in Delhi, was a state-level debriefing ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, all the talk in the meeting was focused on the current political crisis in the state in the face of reports that Congress and JD(S) MLAs are threatening to leave the party. "Chief Minister Kumaraswamy is talking about an Operation Kamala. But in reality, he is trying to speak to MLAs in our party. He has reached out to a number of BJP leaders, particularly Subash Guttedar on his recent visit to Kalburgi", Yeddyurappa said.
The claim by Yeddyurappa comes at a time when the state BJP unit is in the news for its latest attempt to upstage the Congress-JD(S) coalition government and take power in the state. The BJP, particularly a core group of leaders including Yeddyurappa, MP Shobha Karandlaje and MLA Sriramulu, are reportedly involved in the plan to gain the support of Congress leaders in the state. This move was prompted after Congress MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi threatened to quit the party last week.
As of now, both Ramesh and his brother Satish Jarkiholi have not yet announced that they are switching to the BJP, and the BJP is determined that any move to topple the government will have to be initiated by the Congress rebels.
The tactic of convincing leaders from opposition parties has been deployed by BJP in several states in the past. It was previously attempted in 2004 and 2008 in Karnataka and has over the years earned the moniker 'Operation Kamala', in reference to the BJP's lotus symbol.
However, Yeddyurappa refused to be drawn into a discussion on a possible Operation Kamala this month. "DK Shivakumar says he's playing pawns like it is a game of chess but I want to remind him if it is a game of chess, he has no opponent. What is the use of playing a pawn? He should focus on the development of the state and the water resources ministry," said Yeddyurappa.
He further questioned the silence of Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara."Parameshwara has been silent for four days. He is also disheartened by what is happening with the government. Several Congress leaders have said they are feeling suffocated but we are not involved in it," he added.
Yeddyurappa along with state BJP leaders at the special meeting in Bengaluru on Wednesday
The BJP is determined to gain power in the state but the party is also wary that another unsuccessful attempt to form the government in the state will dent the party's image further, after its first attempt following the state Assembly elections was unsuccessful.
According to sources in the party, the central BJP leadership has asked the party's state unit to toe the line in its efforts to upstage the state government and "not embarrass the party again". The diktat comes with a few months to go, for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The party is currently in the process of reorganizing its units based on Lok Sabha constituencies. "Only Dakshina Kannada district remains as it is. All other district units have to be re-organized based on the geography of the constituencies", said a BJP official.
With the special meeting in Bengaluru, the party is hoping to galvanise its leaders and volunteers before the campaign for the national elections intensifies. Several state leaders including CT Ravi, Jagadish Shettar, Shobha Karandlaje and Sriramulu were present on stage. Karnataka has a total of 28 Lok Sabha constituencies and the BJP is aiming to improve its tally of winning 17 seats in 2014.
Amid the rumoured political crisis in the state, Yeddyurappa appeared to distance the party from the discontentment brewing in the Congress but he sounded ominous when he said, "What will happen in the future we will decide soon. But I don't have the confidence that this government will last much longer."