Bengaluru, October 29: The political scene in Karnataka is heating up yet again as the Congress and BJP have locked horns yet again by making bolder attempts to poach each other’s leaders. It has become ‘Operation Hast’ versus ‘Operation Lotus’ in Karnataka ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress after registering a thumping victory by winning 136 seats in the 224-Karnataka state legislature, implementing five guarantee schemes and consolidating its position, wants to leave no stone unturned to wrestle more than 20 Lok Sabha seats. Presently BJP holds 25 Parliamentary seats out of 28 in the state.

Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar, who is also the state Congress President, had declared a war on poaching and directly gave calls for party cadres to poach the opposition party leaders. Former CM Jagadish Shettar and former DyCM Laxman Savadi had pulled in major leaders from BJP in north Karnataka. Sources explain that Shivakumar is all set to stake claim over the CM’s post for the 2.5 years tenure, after ensuring grand old party wins in 20 Parliamentary seats. Congress-Led INDIA Block Will Adopt Rajasthan, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh Models of Governance at Centre, Says Rahul Gandhi

On the other hand, the BJP which is looking competitive following the alliance with JD(S), is up for a gamble by making attempts to poach MLAs. Though the task appears to be near impossible, the leaders have already started working on it. Karnataka BJP managed to win 66 seats and with the alliance with JD(S) with 19 seats the numbers would be 85. The magic number in the state legislature is 113 and the strength of Congress is 136. DyCM Shivakumar had asserted that the BJP's conspiracy to topple the Congress government in the state will not work. "We know this conspiracy. There are prominent leaders behind it. However, nothing will work."

Karnataka Congress MLA Ganiga Ravi had alleged that attempts are on to destabilise the Congress government in the state and his colleagues are being offered Rs 50 crore and a minister portfolio. MLA Ganiga Ravi, without taking BJP's name, had stated that they have already met four of Congress MLAs and spoken to them. MLA Ganiga Ravi had further stated that a MLC from Mysuru region, a former minister from Belagavi and former CM B.S. Yediyiurappa’s close associates are indulging in offering Congress MLAs Rs 50 crore each and trying to topple Congress government. Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah Takes Swipe at PM Narendra Modi, Says 'Prime Minister Is Upset That BJP Lost Karnataka Elections'

Sources explain that MLA Ganiga Ravi is indirectly referring to former BJP minister C.P. Yogeshwar, former minister Ramesh Jarkiholi and former personal secretary of Yediyurappa, N.R. Santhosh. MLA Ganiga Ravi further stated that he had got evidence for this. The meeting had been held in the Goldfinch hotel in Bengaluru. The offer had been made to five MLAs. They are planning to lay traps for Congress MLAs all over the state.

Talking to IANS, Yashas B.S., the BJP spokesperson explained that the allegations of poaching by Congress is far from the truth. "There is no evidence to prove this. BJP has no intention to destabilize the Congress government which has won 136 seats and come to power. Already within Congress there are many teams. Minister for PWD Satish Jarkiholi, DyCM Shivakumar, CM Siddaramaiah have their own teams in the Congress party. Minister Dr. G. Parameshwar is also projecting himself as the CM, and in order to divert attention from the infighting these allegations are being made.

"To hide that no development work is taking place due to guarantee schemes, the Congress government had come up with a tiger claw pendant controversy. Now, they are saying Congress MLAs are poached. There is no connection now between former CM Yediyurappa and his former personal secretary N.R. Santhosh. The Congress leaders are pushing the government towards instability. Minister Satish Jarkiholi did not receive Shivakumar and separate meetings were held. To divert attention from these developments, BJP is being alleged with poaching charges."

Suryamukund Raj, KPCC Legal Cell Secretary and spokesperson explained to IANS that the move by the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to appoint a leader of opposition even after six months and having won 66 MLA seats is an indication that 'Operation Lotus' is on the cards. They are planning to pull first time MLAs, who are in good numbers and senior MLAs as well. Though there are slight differences and displeasures, no leader is going to quit the party. The attempt by BJP to defame Congress in connection with the seizure of huge cash in Bengaluru by the IT department had flopped," he added.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Oct 29, 2023 08:56 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website