A fractured verdict in the Assembly polls has moved the battle from the war field to the war rooms. Almost written off after the dramatic turn of events on Tuesday – when the BJP went way beyond the halfway mark and then stopped at 104, short of the magic figure of 113 – the party is said to be planning to fight it out on the floor of the House. The other option, but not being given much weightage, is to resort to Operation Lotus — by poaching MLAs from Congress and JD(S) — to reach the magic number of 113.
In the first option, BJP Karnataka president BS Yeddyurappa will be asked to prove his majority and the party will get MLAs from the rival camps to abstain. As per rules, another no-trust motion cannot be introduced for a minimum of six months. And if MLAs of rival camps vote against the party whip, they face disqualification; in which case, it becomes easier for the BJP to prove its majority (at 104, it is just 9 short of the magic figures; after bye-elections, it hopes to better its tally).
The second option, of poaching MLAs from other parties, is being actively pursued by both Congress and JD(S) too.
Sources said that former deputy chief minister R Ashok and BJP’s Dalit face B Sreeramulu had been asked to take up the responsibility to poach MLAs to reach the numbers. But the party high command is said to have applied brakes on the move and asked state leaders to wait till a clear message from them.
Kumaraswamy, who has been offered the chief minister’s post by the Congress, said: “I have reports that BJP is offering Rs 25 crore to lure MLAs to quit and seek re-election on its symbol.”
Earlier in the day, Yeddyurappa met Governor Vala and sought a week’s time to stake claim to form the government.
Sources said that there was a message from the Centre to Governor Vajubhai Vala to give time for the BJP to stake their claim to form the government as it is the single largest party. The party is also referring to the SR Bommai case where the Supreme Court had said that largest party should be first invited to form the government. It is also leaning on the Sarkaria Commission (which dwelled on Centre-State relations) which says that the single largest party should be invited to form the government.
Amit Shah is likely to be in Bengaluru and address the newly elected MLAs at the legislature party meeting on Wednesday.
In the meanwhile, Congress and JD(S) leaders who also met Vala on Tuesday, handed over copies of the apex court’s orders where coalition partners are allowed to form governments. Later in the day, Congress leaders Gulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, party in-charge in the state KC Venugopal along with KPCC president G Parameshwar held a closed-door meeting. A few minutes later, JD(S) national president HD Deve Gowda too joined them and discussed on how to counter the BJP’s Operation Lotus besides on how to take it legally if the Governor decides to play politics.
Both coalition partners have decided to hold separate legislature meetings on Saturday. After the meetings, the partners are planning to meet Vala and hand over a letter to stake claim to form the government.
If Governor does not allow them to form the government, they plan to stage a dharna in front of Raj Bhavan.
It has also been decided to ferry Congress and JD(S) MLAs to resorts to avoid Operation Lotus and ensure that their flock remains intact. It is likely that the MLAs will either be moved to the Andhra or Kerala. Apparently, both the parties are getting support from various parties. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Telagnana Chief Minister K Chadhrasekhar Rao and several Left party and other Opposition party leaders at national level are said to have spoken to Congress high command to ensure that they keep the BJP out of power by forging an alliance with the JD(S) and ensure that there are no aberrations that unsettles the coalition.
The Congress and JD(S) seem to have worked out a power-sharing formula for the next five years — while HD Kumaraswamy will be the Chief Minister, Congress will get to choose a Deputy CM and will reportedly go for a Dalit face. Sources said that KPCC president G Parameshwara will most likely bag that role.
In fact, he was the first Congress leader to have opened the channel of communication with the JD(S) after it was clear that BJP would not get to the magic figure.
After seeking the high command’s nod, he sent some of his confidantes to meet Gowda and convey to him the party’s wish to be part of a coalition government with the JD(S).
Sources added that both JD(S) and the Congress have decided to keep 17 portfolios each.