- Yashwant Sinha claimed that the saffron party was carrying out 'Operation Kamal'
- Sinha alleged BJP was offering 'money to non-BJP MLAs' to ensure its presidential candidate wins
- BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has fielded Droupadi Murmu, a tribal leader from Odisha
President Election 2022: Opposition parties' Presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha on Thursday accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of indulging in horse trading in the election for the country's highest constitutional post and sought a probe into it.
He claimed that the saffron party was carrying out 'Operation Kamal', under which it was allegedly offering "huge money to non-BJP MLAs" to ensure its presidential candidate's win as it is afraid of the outcome of a free and fair election.
Kamal or lotus is the poll symbol of the BJP.
In recent years, the opposition parties have been accusing the BJP of carrying out 'Operation Kamal' to gain power in the states where it does not rule. The opposition uses the term to describe the saffron party's alleged attempts to engineer defection for forming a government.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has fielded Droupadi Murmu, a tribal leader from Odisha, as its candidate for the election to the post of president. Election for the top post will be held on July 18.
Talking to reporters after meeting Congress MLAs, Sinha said, "This morning, I read with deep distress the news published in a leading newspaper in Madhya Pradesh with the headline - 'BJP eyeing 28 tribal MLAs of Congress, cross voting preparation'."
"I have also heard from credible sources that huge sums of money are being offered to non-BJP MLAs to vote for the party's candidate in the presidential elections," he alleged.
This clearly means that 'Operation Kamal' is now being put into effect even in the election to the highest office of the Republic, Sinha said, adding that it also shows that the BJP is afraid of the outcome of a free and fair presidential election.
He said that Congress's tribal MLA and former state minister Umang Singhar clearly said during a meeting that he has been pressured.
"What kind of politics is being played in the country... Forget the presidential elections...," he said.
Sinha's remark comes amid a buzz in political circles that a BJP leader has contacted Singhar for cross-voting.
"Since the beginning, they have been saying that Yashwant Sinha is a defeated candidate. They are saying we are winning the presidential election with a huge mandate. If that is the case, then why are you worried? You are keeping an eye on 28 Congress tribal MLAs and saying that you are going to indulge in cross-voting."
"So the point I am making is this - the presidential election is not just an election, it is for the country's future," he added.
He urged the Election Commission and also the Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha, who is the returning officer for the presidential election, to probe the reported corruption practices of the ruling party.
"The right name for 'Operation Kamal' is 'Operation Mal' (dirt), because it has become synonymous with dirty political corruption by the ruling party.
It has been used to create defections in opposition parties and even to topple state governments run by the opposition parties," the former Union finance minister said.
"Apart from Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has used it to dislodge the governments in Karnataka, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh and most recently in Maharashtra. In all this, I hear alarm bells ringing for democracy in India," he said.
When asked, he said there was a huge difference between the BJP at present and the time when he was part of it in the past.
"The two are different parties. The BJP led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani had lost no confidence by one vote. In 1999, the government led by Vajpayeeji was defeated by one vote. And I regard that as a very majestic chapter... by just one vote. Can you now imagine the BJP government at the Centre or states losing by a single vote?" Sinha said.
"You might even remember that after losing the confidence motion then, Vajpayeeji had said that goods was on for sale at the mandi (market), but we did not buy. Today, Umang Singharji talked about buying. Where has the BJP gone?" he asked.
When asked whether some people from BJP might still be supporting him in the election, he said the best thing would be to wait for the situation to unfold.