DH DECIPHERS | What is Operation Kamala 2.0?

BJP is said to be attempting Operation Kamala 2.0 currently, this time to bring down the Congress-JD(S) coalition government.

Operation Kamala (or Operation Lotus) was the name given to the infamous, but successful, attempt of the BJP to engineer the defection of opposition legislators to ensure stability of the BS Yeddyurappa government in 2008. BJP is said to be attempting Operation Kamala 2.0 currently, this time to bring down the Congress-JD(S) coalition government.

What happened in 2008?

In the assembly polls of May 2008, BJP emerged as the single largest party with 110 seats, three short of simple majority. Yeddyurappa took oath as chief minister with the support of six independents to form the first BJP government in south India. But to further ensure the government’s stability, BJP poached seven MLAs -- three from Congress, four from JD(S) -- luring them with money and power, in an operation allegedly financed by the mining baron and former BJP minister Janardhan Reddy of Bellary. In the by-polls, the BJP won five, and this took BJP’s tally to 115 in the 224-member assembly.

What’s happening now?

It is widely believed that BJP is attempting Operation Kamala 2.0 to form its own government by trying to lure legislators of the coalition. In fact, the BJP tried to engineer defections soon after the assembly polls in May this year, when it emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats. However, the Congress-JD(S) coalition was on guard. Audio clips of Yeddyurappa offering money and power to MLAs went public, leaving the BJP exposed, and on the retreat. BJP is said to have revived the attempt now.

How do we know that?   

The BJP has claimed, several times publicly, that the HD Kumaraswamy government would not last much beyond Sankranti (January 15). Members of the ruling JD(S)-Congress coalition have repeatedly accused BJP of trying to poach MLAs. While BJP continues to deny this, at least three Congress MLAs have gone ‘missing’, and are said to be talking to BJP.

What is BJP’s strategy?

The Congress-JD(S) coalition has 117 legislators, BJP 104. BJP will have to get at least 13 MLAs from the ruling alliance to resign from the House so as to bring down the strength of the House, allowing the saffron party to stake claim to form the government. The defecting MLAs cannot join BJP straightaway as then they would attract disqualification under the Anti-Defection Law. But they can do so later and face by-polls as BJP candidates. The plan is to have these by-polls held along with the Lok Sabha polls, by which BJP expects to gain an advantage.

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