BJP denies poaching any Karnataka opposition members


New Delhi : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Friday denied that it has launched “Operation Kamal” in Karnataka to lure away opposition legislators in the face of its dwindled strength in the assembly after the speaker disqualified 16 rebel legislators, including 11 from the party.

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“No ‘operation Kamal’ is on. If some legislators have resigned, it is their decision. We are not going to make them ministers,” senior party leader Venkaiah Naidu said here in response to questions.

Asked about the CD released Thursday by Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leader and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy containing alleged telephone conversation of a BJP legislator making attempts to lure away a JD-S legislator, Naidu dismissed it as a fake.

“Did he (Kumaraswamy) release his CD where he is offering allurements? Our state unit’s information is that the CD he released is not real. It is a man-made CD for a particular purpose,” Naidu said.

However, Naidu sidestepped a question about why the BJP had not released a CD of Kumaraswamy, in which the JD-S leader was allegedly attempting to influence BJP members to not go to assembly for the trust vote.

The BJP government in the state, led by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, is struggling to survive following rebellion by 11 party legislators and five Independents.

While the 16 legislators have been disqualified and their appeal is pending in the Karnataka High Court, the Congress is claiming that its legislators are being offered Rs.50 crore (Rs.500 million) each by the BJP to defect. In the last few days, two Congress and one JD-S legislators have quit the assembly.

Yeddyurappa has rubbished the allegations and accused the Congress and the JD-S of holding the 11 BJP rebels hostages.

Kumaraswamy Thursday claimed that nine more Congress lawmakers and many from the JD-S were being targeted by BJP.

Following the revolt, Yeddyurappa has won two trust votes in the assembly. The first BJP chief minister in south India thus also became the first Karnataka chief minister to go in for two trust votes in three days.

He won the first trust vote Oct 11 amid chaos, following which Governor H.R. Bhardwaj recommended President’s Rule in the state. He, however, changed his mind and gave Yeddyurappa one more chance to prove his majority Oct 14.

Yeddyurappa won that test 106 to 100 votes, but the outcome is subject to the Karnataka High Court decision on the validity of the lawmakers’ disqualification.

With the court hearing on, the Congress has housed its legislators in a hotel, while the JD-S has taken its flock, along with the 16 rebel lawmakers, to a resort on Bangalore’s outskirts.