Amid allegations from Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) of trying to poach their MLAs, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa, who was elected leader of Karnataka BJP legislature party, said he would take oath as chief minister tomorrow, Thursday, May 17.
Meanwhile, to forestall this, Congress and JD(S) were collecting signatures of their MLAs in support of HD Kumaraswamy as chief minister. The document will be submitted to Governor Vajubhai Vala later today (Wednesday, May 16). The two parties have also denied reports of any of their MLAs going ‘missing’.
Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Wala has not given out any indication either way so far. The Congress and JD(S) had jointly staked their claim to form government even as results were coming in, once it was clear that together they had a comfortable majority. Yeddyurappa had also met the Governor laying claim as leader of the single largest party to be invited first for forming government.
The principle Yeddyurappa is banking on does not apply any more after the Manipur, Meghalaya and Goa episodes where it was dumped to allow BJP to forge alliances and form governments, edging out the Congress as the single largest party.
All eyes are on Governor Vajubhai who, however, has let out any word so far. In Goa and other states, it was the BJP which had swiftly tied up alliances and approached the Governor to stake its claim and the Governor accepted it promptly. In Karnataka, however, the Congress was prepared and showed alacrity in extending unconditional support to JD(S) whose leader HD Kumaraswamy did not waste time in approaching the Governor.
To invite BJP, the Governor and the Centre need to work out a rationale that does not appear too brazenly disgraceful. Vajubhai Wala is former RSS man from Gujarat known to have a good rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The time lag provides scope for parties to try and poach on legislators of other parties – a charge that Congress and JD(S) are levelling at BJP.
JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy accused the BJP of horse-trading. Speaking at a press conference, he said the party had offered JD(S) legislators Rs 100 crore and cabinet rank to get them to switch sides. “JD(S) MLAs are being offered Rs 100 crore each. Where is this black money coming from? They are supposedly the servers of poor people and they are offering money today. Where are the income tax officials?” he said.
Prakash Javadekar, Karnataka BJP In-charge, speaking on horse-trading allegations by Congress and JDS, said, “Rs 100 crore figure is not only imaginary but it is what Congress-JD(S) do politics through. We are going by rules, we have submitted our claim to the Governor, are confident of forming the government.”
He said, “They are levelling baseless charges against BJP. Poaching and horse trading is not done by BJP, Congress is famous for it. Their own MLAs are not happy with their alliance.”
Asked how the BJP plans to achieve majority, Javadekar said “it would happen in the natural course of things”. Many lawmakers are “upset” with the “unethical marriage of convenience” between the Congress and the JD(S), he added.
Earlier, all three major parties – the BJP, Congress and JD(S) – held legislative party meetings today. Newly elected Karnataka BJP legislators formally elected B S Yeddyurappa as the legislative party leader.
JD(S) MLAs chose state unit chief H D Kumaraswamy as legislative party leader. However, ANI reported that two legislators, namely Raja Venkatappa Nayaka and Venkata Rao Nadagouda, were missing from the party meeting.
Yeddyurappa, the BJP’s nominee for chief minister, met governor Vajubhai Vala today and asked him to allow the BJP to form the next government in Karnataka. Speaking to mediapersons outside the Raj Bhavan, a confident Yeddyurappa claimed that he will take oath as chief minister tomorrow.
Karnataka Congress leader D K Shivakumar alleged that the BJP was attempting to “poach” its MLAs and a plan to safeguard them was afoot, details of which would be revealed in due course of time. “They (BJP) are poaching our MLAs, we know that. Everyday there is a lot of pressure. But it not so easy because two parties have the necessary number. People are watching this,” he said.
Levelling a similar charge, JD(S) leader Saravana said several party lawmakers had been approached by the BJP, which had yesterday asked the governor for a chance to prove its majority. “I don’t know what they (BJP) are offering but they are trying to call our people, but they are not responding. We are all together, no one can touch our party. Our party MLAs are loyal to the party,” Saravana told ANI.
Congress leader Siddaramaiah, who resigned as chief minister yesterday, denied reports that some legislators of his party had gone missing. “All the Congress MLAs are intact. Nobody is missing. We are confident of forming the government,” he said before heading to the Congress party meeting at the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) office.
BJP’s future course of action:
While the Governor’s move is awaited anxiously, there is speculation also about the future moves of the BJP.
If invited first to form a government, one course of action the BJP may adopt is to repeat ‘Operation Lotus’ which it tried successfully in 2008 when it was short of majority and formed its first government in the state.
Yeddyurappa employed this tactic to buy over opposition party MLAs with money and power. BJP poached 20 MLAs from JD(S) and Congress, made them resign their seats and contest bypolls, between 2008 and 2013. This time it needs to get less than 10 MLAs for the magic figure to drop within its manageable limits.
Another way is make some MLAs of the Congress and JD(S) abstain during the trust vote.
A third option is to allow the Congress-JD(S) coalition to form government and try and bring it down later at an opportune time, use this to portray the combine as opportunistic, unreliable and unscrupulous and project itself as the party that can provide a stable government that can do all the wonderful things it claims to be doing at the Centre and in the states it rules.