BENGALURU: As Karnataka threw a fractured mandate in the assembly, Janata Dal Secular (JDS) leader HD Kumaraswamy on Wednesday reminded the people of the 'Operation Lotus' that was carried out in 2008. Kumaraswamy claimed that the BJP offered his MLAs Rs 100 crore in bribes to break ranks and back the BJP in forming a government in Karnataka.
"Our MLAs were offered Rs 100 crore by the BJP to break away. I want to know whether this is black or white money. The JDS-Congress combine has 116 MLAs. The BJP is trying to misuse its power being at the Centre and form its government through horsetrading," he said.
In the 2008 Karnataka Assembly elections, the BJP became the single-largest party but fell short of a majority by just three seats. It eventually formed the government but was accused of indulging in an infamous political manoeuvre code-worded 'Operation Lotus'. BJP's rivals claim "Operation Lotus" was initiated by the then BJP chief minister BS Yeddyurappa where he allegedly gained the support of some opposition party MLAs using money and power.
In 2018, too, the equation is almost similar with the same key players - BJP, Congress and JDS - wrangling for power and Yeddyurappa yet again being at the centrestage.
Claiming that JDS-Congress should be invited by the Governor to form the government, Kumaraswamy said, "without the numbers how can they (BJP) form the government".
He also rejected outright the possibility of forming a coalition government with the BJP. "I am going to meet the governor with the state Congress president and formally stake claim to form the government," he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP has rejected Kumaraswamy's charges terming them "imaginary". "This (talk of) Rs 100 crore, Rs 200 crore is imaginary. The BJP is not doing this. We are not in the habit of practising horsetrading. This is the kind of politics JD(S) and Congress do. We are going by the rule book and we will form the government," Union minister Prakash Javadekar said.
There are reports that the Congress has booked a resort in Bengaluru for its winning MLAs to prevent the BJP from poaching them. The booking has reportedly been done in the Eagleton resort in Bengaluru.
Karnataka delivered a hung Assembly on Tuesday with no party getting a clear majority to form government in the state. While BJP emerged as the single-largest party, winning 104 seats, the Congress and the Janata Dal Secular stood second and third with wins on 78 and 38 seats respectively. Even before full results could come in, intense political parley began with the Congress and the JDS declaring that they would jointly form the government in Karnataka.
However, the single largest party refused to budge, and ultimately both the sides met Governor Vajubhai Vala and staked claims to form the government. As the Governor is yet to give his decision on the issue, it’s expected to be another day of the race to Vidhan Soudha.