BJP planning another ‘Operation Lotus’

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa

Another round of ‘Operation Lotus’ appears to be on the cards in the state, with speculation rife that a dozen legislators, mostly from the JD(S), are on the verge of switching over to the saffron party.

The BJP, sources said, is hoping to poach the MLAs after Dasara next month and ahead of the winter session of the state legislature, which would help the Yediyurappa government to bolster its numbers in the Assembly, thereby ensuring a trouble-free run for the party for the next three years.

As of now, the BJP enjoys a slender majority in the 224-member Assembly, whose strength has reduced to 207 following the resignations of 17 MLAs — 14 from Congress (including KPJP MLA R Shankar) and three from the JD(S).

While a few MLAs rumoured to have been approached have been linked to the saffron party for months now, the list also has some surprises. 

According to sources, among the legislators approached or likely to be contacted from the JD(S) include former minister G T Devegowda, Srirangapatna MLA Ravindra Srikantaiah, Nagamangala MLA Suresh Gowda, Tumkur Rural MLA D C Gowrishankar and Gurmitkal MLA Naganagouda Kandkur and H K Kumaraswamy, current JD(S) president and five-time MLA from Sakleshpur constituency.

The Congress could also be hit as Bellary Rural MLA B Nagendra and Hagaribommanahalli MLA Bheema Naik are expected to switch sides after Dasara.

Critical remarks by JD(S) MLC Puttanna on Thursday against the previous coalition government also set tongues wagging on his political future.

Along with Puttanna, Dasarahalli MLA R Manjunath’s name is also doing the rounds. Manjunath was a gunman of BJP leader S M Krishna.

Meanwhile, Devegowda raised eyebrows in Mysuru as he took a veiled dig at the JD(S) and its K R Nagar MLA Sa Ra Mahesh. He also predicted the defeat of the party from the Hunsur constituency - formerly represented by rebel MLA Vishwanath - in the upcoming bypolls.

When contacted, JD(S) spokesperson Ramesh Babu said the BJP was spreading rumours to hide the factionalism within its ranks.

“No one will leave the JD(S),” he said.

 

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