Major political drama has unfolded in Karnataka where lawmakers from both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress went missing on Sunday. Matters has gone worse as both the parties have accused each other of 'horse-trading'.
While BJP flew its 100-odd lawmakers to Delhi and later to a resort in neighbouring Gurgaon, alleging that Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy was trying to split it ranks, the Congress has claimed that the incident of its 'missing' lawmakers is a proof that the BJP has launched 'Operation Lotus'. The term was first used in 2008, when the saffron party was accused of inciting several opposition legislators to defect to ensure the stability of its government headed by BS Yeddyurappa.
State BJP President BS Yeddyurappa has alleged that the ruling JD(S)-Congress coalition was trying to luring its MLAs. Speaking to reporters after holding meeting with state BJP MLAs and MPs in New Delhi, Yeddyurappa said; "It is not us, but they (JDS-Congress) have started horse trading. We will stay in Delhi one or two days because Kumaraswamy is trying his level best to contact our MLAs and horse trading has started".
The BJP is "alert and careful" as the chief minister is trying to lure our MLAs using "power and money", he said.
"Kumaraswamy is trying to contact BJP MLAs and has offered a ministerial post to a Kalburgi MLA," he alleged and said the ruling combine is luring BJP state legislators despite having majority numbers.
Yeddyurappa said the BJP legislators would be in New Delhi for "one or two days" and would later go to their constituencies and begin preparations for the Lok Sabha polls in all the 28 constituencies.
Meanwhile, amid reports that six to eight Congress MLAs are ready to cross over to the BJP and some lawmakers of the ruling coalition having gone incommunicado, Chief minister H D Kumaraswamy said he has "sufficient numbers" to run a stable government.
He asserted there was no question of "instability" in his government.
Kumaraswamy said he enjoyed the support of 120 MLAs and alleged that Yeddyurappa was making "futile attempts" to destabilise his government.
"I have sufficient numbers for giving a stable government here, it is not necessary for Congress or JD(S) to poach the MLAs from BJP, we have sufficient numbers," he said in Bengaluru.
"In which BJP MLAs name rooms were reserved in which resort, how many rooms were reserved.How many Congress-JD(S) they were making attempts to lure and take them away..don't I have the information," he said.
"The coalition government enjoys support of 120 MLAs," he said.
He also said, "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."
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," he added.
"If my government is facing instability, is it possible for me to be at ease?" he asked.
Shivakumar on Sunday said the BJP's 'Operation Lotus' was for real, alleging that three Congress MLAs were camping in a Mumbai hotel.
He had said the chief minister was being "lenient" towards the BJP, by not exposing it.
"BJP members have gone for their executive meeting and to plan a strategy for 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.
Deputy chief minister and senior Congress leader G Parameshwara also said the government was stable.
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 holiday or to visit temples or meet leaders."
Accusing the BJP of trying to poach Congress MLAs, Parameshwara said it would not be successful.
JDS leader HD Deve Gowda said his son Kumaraswamy was running a stable government and would do so for a full five years, despite "gossip for the past seven months".
In the 224-member Assembly, BJP has 104 members, Congress-79, JDS 37, BSP, KPJP and Independent one each, besides Speaker. BSP, KPJP and an Independent are supporting the coalition.