In Karnataka, Operation Kamala Accusation Against BJP resurfaces

BJP had dismissed the Congress’ allegations as wild and baseless. (File PTI)


The Congress and HD Kumaraswamy’s JDS has alleged that the BJP is trying to destabilise its three-month-old alliance government in Karnataka by attempting to poach on its lawmakers. JDS leader and minister Sa Ra Mahesh has told reporters that the BJP has been trying to pull another “Operation Kamala” – a term coined in 2008 when the BJP, three seats short of majority, had managed to secure support of lawmakers from rival parties and form the government.

State party chief Dinesh Gundu Rao has warned that such a move will invite retaliation. “If they do it we will not sit quietly. Two BJP MLAs are in touch with us and five with the JDS,” Mr Gundu Rao told reporters on Thursday.

BJP leader S Praksh has dismissed the Congress allegations, saying “Dinesh Gundu Rao is making wild and baseless allegations against the BJP. If Congress MLAs are not satisfied, it is Congress’s responsibility to hold the flock together”. He also challenged Mr Gundu Rao to name the BJP leaders who have been in touch with the ruling alliance.

The BJP’s alleged bid to capture power comes as the Congress and Mr Kumaraswamy’s party announced that they would contest next year’s Lok Sabha Polls together. This, the leaders say, may substantially affect the party’s performance in the state.

BJP insiders, however said that the party’s Central leadership has sent out a message that engineering the fall of the HD Kumaraswamy government is not an option now.

Sources said the idea was pitched by state party chief BS Yeddyurappa at the BJP’s National Executive meeting last week. But it got turned down and Mr Yeddyurappa walked out of the meeting, sources said.

The top BJP leadership maintains that what they call an “alliance of convenience” between the Congress and the JDS, will topple on its own, sources said.

The deep differences within the Congress and Mr Kumaraswamy’s party have been manifest since day one. It had held up the cabinet formation for weeks, with state leaders of the Congress vying for seats with the JDS.

The factionalism within the Congress has also lent support to the BJP’s view. Initially there were differences over the post of the Deputy Chief Minister, which had gone to the Congress under the terms of alliance with Mr Kumaraswamy.

While the party’s candidate for the post was G Parameshwara, senior leader DK Sivakumar had made no secret of his ambitions. Mr Sivakumar was eventually given a cabinet berth with the education portfolio, a crucial one in the state.

But last week, a small local-level election brought out the faultlines in the party again.  

The election to the Belgavi Primary Land Development Bank was won by a candidate backed by Laxmi Hebbalkar, chief of the state Congress women’s cell. It infuriated the powerful local leaders of the party, the Jharkaholi brothers, who had also fielded a candidate.

Pointing to the close relationship between Ms Hebbalkar and DK Sivakimar, the Jharkaholi brothers have alleged that the minister was trying to extend his dominance over what they consider their backyard.

Admitting there are “certain issues” in the party, Mr Gundu Rao said “we will sort them out”.

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