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Camping of BJP legislators in New Delhi sets tongues wagging; three Congress MLAs now in Mumbai
As Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators are in New Delhi for a party meeting in preparation for the Lok Sabha elections, speculation is rife that the party is trying to woo MLAs from the ruling combine in order to topple the Karnataka government. The reported presence of a few disgruntled Congress MLAs, who were incommunicado to their party leaders, in the national capital on Sunday further fuelled the speculation.
Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar told reporters in Bengaluru that there was a “serious conspiracy” to lure their MLAs and that party leaders were aware of what was being offered to MLAs to switch sides.
‘Govt. will be stable’
“The MLAs have also told us of the overtures being made to them. Attempts at horsetrading are real. The BJP leaders have said there will be a change after Sankranti. But the government will be stable,” he said.
He added that three MLAs who had been to Delhi had returned and were now in Mumbai, indicating a numbers tussle was on between the ruling combine and the BJP. Asked about the identity of the MLAs, he said he would not disclose whether they were Congress MLAs or BJP MLAs.
However, sources close to BJP State president B.S. Yeddyurappa said nearly 20 MLAs were ready to resign and switch camps, and a crisis was likely to be precipitated in the coming week.
BJP sources also said that this time — in a third attempt since May 2018 to form the government — the party’s Central leadership was involved and would take the final call on the matter, keeping the upcoming Lok Sabha election in mind.
Meanwhile, an audio clip of Congress MLA Ganesh Hukkeri speaking to a journalist about defecting to the BJP led to further speculation that the government’s fate was uncertain. However, several Ministers from the ruling combine, including Satish Jarkiholi, D.C. Thammanna, N.H. Shivashankar Reddy, and Venkataramanappa, denied reports of defection and claimed the BJP’s ‘Operation Kamala’ would fail and the government would remain stable.
Shah to meet legislators
BJP national president Amit Shah is scheduled to meet party legislators on Monday morning to deliberate on preparations and a strategy for the coming Lok Sabha election. The meeting was originally scheduled for Sunday evening, but Mr. Shah did not turn up. State incharge P. Muralidhara Rao presided over a meeting of BJP legislators along with party State president B.S. Yeddyurappa instead.
Mr. Rao said the national leadership had set a clear task for the party cadre — to concentrate on the booths and work to get 51% of the votes. To this end, they have to get at least five new voters in every booth to enrol as a member of the party.
Conspiracy theory: Minister D.K. Shivakumar said in Bengaluru that there was a “serious conspiracy” to woo their MLAs.