Decoding Operation Kamala

Decoding Operation Kamala

If you’ve just tuned into the drama surrounding the Karnataka Election 2018 and you’re wondering what’s happening, chances are that you’ve heard people mention the phrase ‘Operation Kamala’ or ‘Operation Kamala 2’. PTI file photo

If you have just tuned into the drama surrounding the 2018 Karnataka Elections and wondering what’s happening, chances are that you may have heard people mention the phrase ‘Operation Kamala’ or ‘Operation Kamala 2’.
* What is Operation Kamala?
The term first came up in 2008 when the BJP tried and successfully formed a government in Karnataka. The mastermind behind this infamous strategy was mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy, who came up with a plan to circumvent the Anti-Defection Law (Tenth Schedule of the Constitution). Reddy managed to accumulate the required support for the party so that it could prove its majority in the Assembly. Here’s how:
In 2008, the BJP secured 110 seats, three short of a majority. The only way to form a government was with the support of Congress and JD(S) legislators. There are allegations that the BJP used money to attract three Congress and four JD(S) MLAs to resign and contest by-polls as BJP candidates. Of these seven MLAs, five won taking the BJP’s tally to 115 seats. 
This move ensured that the Anti-Defection Law wouldn’t come into play because it states that a person cannot be disqualified if he/she voluntarily resigns from a particular political party. This loophole was used by Reddy to get the required support for the BJP. Reddy was a Cabinet minister in the then BJP government (2008-2013).

Ten years later, the BJP is faced with a similar situation. The Congress and the JD(S) are afraid that the BJP might use the same strategy. This time, out of the 222 seats for which results have been declared, the BJP has won 104 while the Congress has 78 and the JD(S) 38, and there are two Independents. The BJP has to come up with more numbers than the combined strength of the Congress-JD(S) alliance, which is at 117 (includes 1 Independent).


Fearing poaching by the BJP, the Congress and the JD(S) confined their MLAs to the Eagleton Golf Resort in Bidadi. The parties have tried to keep them under a tight vigil to stop the BJP from poaching any MLA. The resort became home to 75 out of the 78 Congress legislators. Barring some who are with their families, legislators have no way of being contacted as their phones have been taken away, party sources said. Their only outing was to the Vidhana Soudha to stage a dharna on Friday morning. They were later promptly taken back to the resort.

The Congress has tasked its leader D K Shivakumar and his brother Suresh to watch every movement of its legislators. Humnabad MLA Rajashekar Patil, who sought to leave Eagleton on the grounds that he was ill, was stopped by the District Armed Reserve (DAR) personnel near the resort gate for more than 20 minutes. He was allowed to go only after senior leader K J George intervened.
On Wednesday, JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy alleged that the BJP was offering Rs 100 crore to wean away his party MLAs in a bid to form the government. Replying to this allegation, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said, "Rs 100 crore, Rs 200 crore figures are imaginary. The BJP is not doing anything. This is the kind of politics the JD(S) and Congress play."
* What is the Anti-Defection Law (Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India)?
The anti-defection law was passed by Parliament in 1985. The 52nd Amendment to the Constitution added the Tenth Schedule, which lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection. A member of Parliament or state legislature is deemed to have defected if s/he either voluntarily resigns from the party or disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote. That is, they may not vote on any issue in contravention of the party’s whip. Independent members would be disqualified if they had joined a political party before the whip is issued. Nominated members who were not members of a party could choose to join a party within six months; after that period, they will be treated as a party member.
There are exceptions to this law if a group of members that defy a party’s whip comprise at least one-third of the party’s original numbers in the Assembly or if at least two-thirds of the members of a party merge with another party