Karnataka CM says there is no threat to his coalition govt from BJP

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy Monday said there was no question of “instability” in the Congress-JD(S) dispensation as he sought to play down reports about the BJP allegedly attempting ‘Operation Lotus’ to topple his government.

However, he reiterated his allegation that the BJP was trying to lure MLAs of the ruling combine even as he expressed confidence that none of them would switch sides.

“I have noticed reports in sections of the media (about ‘Operation Lotus’). Today, too, I saw a media report stating that on January 17, President’s rule will be imposed in the State. I don’t know who is feeding such reports to the media… I was surprised to see the report,” said Kumaraswamy. “I don’t know who will benefit from such reports, but in my opinion it will cause loss to the people of the State,” he told reporters in Mysuru.

‘Operation Lotus’ is a reference to the BJP, allegedly luring several Opposition MLAs to defect to ensure stability of its then-government headed by B S Yeddyurappa in 2008. Speculations are rife that six to eight Congress MLAs are ready to jump the ship to the BJP side.

There are also reports that a few of them have gone incommunicado. Asked about Water Resource Minister D K Shivakumar’s claim that three Congress MLAs were camping at a hotel in Mumbai in the “company of some BJP leaders”, Kumaraswamy said, they were in constant touch with him.

Not revealing their names, he said, “They are my friends. Those MLAs in Mumbai or 104 BJP MLAs who are in Delhi are all my people, so there is no question of instability to this government.”

“(The Congress) MLAs have gone to Mumbai after bringing it to my notice; they are in constant touch with me,” the Chief Minister said.

“I spoke to them at 7.30 in the morning. They have gone for personal reasons, and there is no need to add politics to it,” Kumaraswamy said.

” …if my government is facing instability, is it possible for me to be at ease?” he asked.

Shivakumar had Sunday said the BJP’s ‘Operation Lotus’ to topple the State’s coalition government was for real, alleging that three Congress MLAs were camping in a Mumbai hotel. He said the Chief Minister was being “lenient” towards the BJP, by not exposing it.

The BJP, holding up all its 104 MLAs, who had gone to Delhi for the party’s national council meeting, in the national capital, and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara calling a breakfast meeting of Congress ministers here, along with KPCC chief Dinesh Gundu Rao and CLP leader Siddaramaiah added fuel to the speculations.

Asked about the meetings by the Congress and BJP, Kumaraswamy said the leaders were holding meetings for matters related to their respective parties.

“The BJP members have gone for their executive meeting and to plan a strategy for the Lok Sabha polls to win more seats. What should I do if their meeting is being seen as a threat to this government?” the Chief Minister asked.

Kumaraswamy said he knew all about who the BJP was contacting and what kind of offers it was using to lure them. He expressed confidence that no MLA from the ruling coalition would defect to the saffron party.

“When media friends report that 12 (MLAs) are going, 14 and 18 are going, without the BJP luring them, will you get the information? But none of our Congress and JD(S) MLAs will go, falling prey to their allurements. There is no such situation,” he said.

Parameshwara also said the government was stable. “There is no chance (of the government becoming unstable),” he said. Asked about the Congress MLAs camping in a Mumbai hotel, he said, “Let them be… why they have gone, nobody knows. They might have gone on a holiday or to visit temples or meet leaders.”

Accusing the BJP of trying to poach Congress MLAs, Parameshwara said the Opposition party would not be successful. “We have faith in our MLAs, so we need not worry,” he said, adding that the party was watching the developments.