On being asked by media persons if the BJP had renewed its efforts of ‘Operation Kamal (Lotus)’ – BJP’s attempt at poaching MLAs of Congress and JDS – Yeddyruppa didn’t deny. Instead, he answered cryptically that his party was not that of sanyasis (saints) that if the government falls, it would not stake a claim.
“BJP being the single largest party will go ahead and stake claim to form the government,” he asserted, hinting that efforts may be afoot behind the scenes to cobble up the numbers and form the government.
But when asked whether he or his party members were in touch with dissenting MLAs, Yeddyruppa said neither he nor his party member had reached out to Congress or JDS lawmakers. However, BJP MLA Umesh Katti has in the past said that the party was in talks with Ramesh Jarkiholi and others.
The Congress has claimed that it has evidence of ‘horse trading’ of its MLAs, who were each ‘offered’ Rs 25 crore to 30 crore by the BJP. Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said would reveal the proof ‘at the appropriate time.’
“We have the evidence, whom all they (BJP) have approached… to whom they have offered money. I will reveal it at the appropriate time,” Siddaramaiah, also the JDS-Congress coordination committee chief, said.
Yeddyurappa dismissed the charge and demanded that Congress produce proof now to substantiate its claim and called Siddaramaiah’s statement “irresponsible”.
The recent rejig in the Karnataka Cabinet has left many MLAs disgruntled, especially former municipal administrative minister Jarkiholi, who was dropped from the cabinet. Ever since the cabinet expansion on December 22, the Congress lawmaker has been incommunicado.
Reports suggested that Ramesh is holed up in a 5-star hotel in Delhi, and soon after former BJP CMs Jagdish Shettar as well as Yeddyruppa made their way to Delhi on December 27. They stated they were there to meet party president Amit Shah.
Eyebrows were raised when Jarkiholi skipped the last cabinet meeting in Belgavi but instead attended a dinner function organised by BJP leaders.
It is rumoured that the Congress MLA from Gokak held several meetings with BJP leaders and has promised to bring along 12-14 MLAs to the BJP.
Rumours are also rife that he demanded at least 10 cabinet berths for his loyalists who will switch sides. The state Congress, however, continues to play the ‘all is well’ card.
Health minister Shivananad Patil said that it was unlikely that Jarkiholi or any other MLA would leave the party. “The coalition government is stable and safe, these are mere rumours, party leaders like Siddaramaiah are in touch with Ramesh” he said.