By Vijay Darda
Just remember the situation after the Karnataka Assembly elections. By winning 104 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as the largest party. After the election results, the Congress had declared unconditional support to Janata Dal (Secular), which won 37 seats.
Then the Congress had 78 MLAs. The JD(S) was supported by a BSP MLA too. Thus, a group of 116 legislators had formed a united front against the BJP. The group also informed the governor about having a majority, but the governor invited BJP to form the government.
Congress also knocked the door of the Supreme Court. Hearing was done at midnight but Yeddyurappa got the chance to form government. On May 17, 2018, he took oath and became the chief minister. Subsequently, the Supreme Court directed Yeddyurappa to prove majority on the floor of the Assembly by May 19.
Yeddyurappa and his party probably believed that they would lure 8 MLAs from the opposition camp and get the support of requisite 112 MLAs. The Karnataka Assembly has a total of 225 MLAs, including a nominated one. There are a total of 224 elected MLAs. Since elections to 2 seats were countermanded, it required only 112 MLAs to form majority.
The BJP had made a lot of efforts and tried all kinds of tricks. But so less was the time that it was not possible to garner the required number of legislators. Congress and JD(S) openly charged that the BJP was giving all kind of temptations to the legislators. But the Congress and JD(S) MLAs remained united. Even two independent legislators were also with the JD(S).
Finally, on May 19, 2018, Yeddyurappa had to resign as he was not in a position to prove majority. He could not get more MLAs on his side. The JD(S) and the Congress formed government. HD Kumaraswamy took over as the chief minister.
Now, remember what exactly did Yeddyurappa say after resigning, having failed to muster the majority? He had said that this government will not last more than three months. If Yeddyurappa was giving such a statement about an elected and majority government, it is clear that there was some plan in his and his party BJP’s mind to topple the government.
They did not do anything in three months, but in the eighth month of the Kumaraswamy government, the BJP played the trick. ‘Operation Lotus’ was launched secretly. It was an attempt to poach some Congress MLAs. This time, the BJP had full confidence because there were news of power struggle between Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah and water resources minister D K Shivakumar.
Two independent MLAs who were first to fall in the BJP’s trap, withdrew support from the government. The alarming bells started ringing in the Congress camp when it realised that some of its MLAs were in touch with the BJP. They were kept in Mumbai and elsewhere.
The BJP had kept its own MLAs in a resort near Delhi. Meanwhile, chief minister Kumaraswamy contacted the MLAs caught in the BJP’s trap and talked to them. Thus, the BJP’s gameplan boomeranged this time too.
In this entire context, the biggest question which arises is why does the BJP try to poach opposition MLAs? If the people of Karnataka have not completely trusted the BJP or if other parties do not trust it either, it should wait for five years!
In politics, the true verdict is delivered only in the people’s court. Indulging in horse-trading and poaching legislators of other parties with huge stack of money or enticement of ministerial position is a direct attack on democracy. It is even more serious that the BJP is being accused of using foul means since it never tires of boasting about introducing cleanliness in politics.
Karnataka JD(S) leader KM Shivalinge Gowda even alleged in a press conference that the BJP leader and former chief minister Jagadish Shettar had offered to give a JD(S) MLA a whopping Rs 60 crore and a ministerial post but the MLA in question refused to accept it. There are many more serious allegations. The BJP, however, has denied these allegations.
But the moot question is why are such allegations being levelled against the BJP and its leaders who seize every opportunity to beat the drums about political purity? Why does it try to reverse the mandate in any state and turn it into its favour. If this is not an attack on the democracy, what else it is?
Vijay Darda has been the chief visionary and driving force behind Lokmat, a leading multi-platform media company. He is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Feroze Gandhi Memorial Award for excellence in journalism in 1990-91.
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