The seer was recently operated upon for a complication but his health started deteriorating soon after, giving an excuse to BS Yeddyurappa to head home on Wednesday night.
According to insiders, the leaders kept assuring the captive MLAs till Wednesday morning that everything was proceeding according to plan and the HD Kumaraswamy government would collapse by the weekend. Some MLAs wanted to escape from Delhi’s cold and head home but the leaders prevented them by saying a “sweet” news was on its way. However, by afternoon it was clear to most BJP MLAs and leaders that ‘Operation Kamala’ was not showing the expected results and they started looking for a way out.
Yeddyurappa, who left for Bengaluru by an evening flight, told the MLAs that he was going to see the ailing seer and would return in a day. However, he did a U-turn on Thursday morning by declaring that there was no attempt to dislodge the HDK government and the BJP MLAs were taking a break at a resort in Gurugram.
After reaching Tumkur, Yeddyurappa informed the media that he would stay at the Mutt and keep a watch on the seer’s health for the next two days.
Speaking to News18, a state BJP office bearer on the condition of anonymity blamed the leaders for humiliation at the hands of the JD(S)-Congress coalition. “They had told all MLAs that this time they won’t fail and our government will be established in a week. They even gave us the names of the MLAs from JD(S) and Congress who would be switching sides. Because of that, our MLAs agreed to stay at a resort in Gurugram to maintain unity and foil any attempt by the JD(S) and Congress to lure some of our own away from the BJP. It has failed again,” he rued.
State BJP leaders are also angry with Dakshina Kannada MP Nalinkumar Kateel and Maharashtra minister Ram Shindhe who made statements that there would be a BJP government in Karnataka by the weekend.
If a JD(S) source is to be believed, Kumaraswamy had successfully planted his “spies” at the resort to inform him about the developments in the BJP camp. They kept him informed about the latest developments, helping the chief minister make an effective counter strategy.
According to Congress and JD(S) leaders, they established contacts with their MLAs who were kept at a Mumbai hotel allegedly by the BJP and persuaded them to return home. Except four MLAs, the remaining rushed back to Bengaluru, pledging support to the government.
The four Congress rebels led by former minister Ramesh Jharkiholi are expected to return from Mumbai by Thursday night. It is not clear if they are returning to the party fold or quitting. However, their resignations will have no impact on the stability of the HDK government.
Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader and former CM Siddaramaiah has called an emergency meeting of his 80 MLAs on Friday. He has also issued a Whip, warning of disqualification under the anti-defection Act if they fail to turn up at the meeting. JD(S) supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda has also assigned the task of keeping all his 37 MLAs in good humour to four ministers. The Congress also took a dig at the BJP leaders, saying now that they were back from their vacation, they could concentrate on work.
We extend a hearty welcome to all Karnataka BJP MLAs who are returning home after an extended holiday at a luxury resort near Delhi. Now that they are sufficiently rejuvenated let us hope they will attend to the work of their constituencies which they have neglected for long.
— KPCC President (@KPCCPresident) 17 January 2019
The failed “coup” has generated a lot of negative image for the party, admit some local BJP leaders. In the words of Kumaraswamy, “Sankranthi” turned into a “Som-Bhranthi” (illusion) for the BJP. If the BJP makes yet another attempt to form the government, there is a possibility that not many MLAs may back the efforts after several failures in the last seven months.