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Fearing defeat, BJP attempting 'Operation Lotus' again: Congress


Bengaluru, Dec 04: Alleging that the ruling BJP, fearing defeat in the December 5 bypolls, has tried to contact some of its MLAs with an intention to engineer defections, the Congress in Karnataka Monday warned the saffron party of a backlash from the party and people if they went about it.

The principal opposition party also claimed that BJP was spending about Rs 1,000 crore "corrupt money" for the bypoll.

Dinesh Gundu Rao

"I want to tell one thing to BJP- some of their leaders have claimed that Congress MLAs are ready to join them...Im warning them not to again indulge in Operation Kamala (poaching of opposition MLAs)," KPCC President Dinesh Gundu Rao told reporters here.

"...in fact, they are already making phone calls to our MLAs, already called a few of them. If it repeats, we will not spare you...

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    If it (poaching) repeats, we will not spare you. They (BJP) know they will lose in the bypolls.

    If they indulge in Operation Kamala again, leave alone Congress, people will chase and beat them. Dont indulge in such undemocratic things, he added.

    Clarifying that Congress would not indulge in such "operations", Rao said disqualified Congress legislators like Byrathi Basavaraj, S T Somashekar and Munirathna- who are now BJP candidates, had in fact said they wanted to re-join the party, a request which was turned down.

    The bypolls were necessitated after the resignation and absence of 17 Congress-JD(S) legislators during the trust vote, leading to the collapse of the coalition government and paving the way for BJP to come to power.

    The 17 legislators were subsequently disqualified by the then Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar under anti defection law.

    However, the Supreme Court that heard the MLA's petition challenging the then Speakers decision had last month allowed them to contest the bypolls,but upheld their disqualification.

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    Expressing confidence that voters would favour Congress, Rao said people would defeat the disqualified legislators, who are BJP candidates, thus ensuing the "cleansing" of politics in the state.

    "Which party forms the government or not is not important. The result should uphold the pride of the state.. voters should send a message that they will not tolerate such filthy politics,by rejecting and defeating disqualified, he said.

    BJP needs to win at least six seats in the bypolls to 15 constituencies to remain in a majority in the 224-member assembly, which will still have two vacant seats-- Maski and R R Nagar.

    On the possibility of Congress again joining hands with JD(S) to form a government after the bypolls if BJP fell short of a majority, Rao said their primary focus was to defeat BJP and the defectors.

    "What happens after that we will discuss and decide as and when the situation arises," he said.

    Among the 15 constituencies going to the bypolls, 12 were held by Congress and three by JD(S),whose coalition government collapsed due to rebellion by the disqualified MLAs.

    With winning a majority of the seats being crucial for the government's survival, BJP has fielded 13 of the 16 disqualified legislators who joined the party as its candidates from their respective constituencies.

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    Rao also alleged that the BJP government, after coming to power, had not taken any pro-public measures and was only busy recovering money it had invested in Operation Kamala.

    "The government has limited itself to transfers, contractor commissions... Hundreds of crores of Rupees was used for Operation Kamala to poach 17 legislators.. it is not easy. According to a calculation over Rs 20 crore was spent on each as claimed in one of the audio tapes...

    So a total of about Rs 400-500 crore would have been spent, he said.

    Similarly, hundreds of crores of Rupees were spent in the run up to the bypolls in the 15 assembly constituencies, he said.

    About Rs 1,000 crore corrupt or black money has totally been used for this election," he alleged.

    Rao said Prime Minister Narendra Modi routinely speaks about eliminating corruption, but nothing was happening in reality.

    Despite the Congress filing a complaint with the IT department (on money 'illegally' being spent by BJP) nothing had happened. On the other hand, Congress leaders were raided, he said.

    The BJP has no issues to fight the polls and so was spending between Rs 50 crore to Rs 60 crore to bribe voters, he alleged.

    They had also put pressure on candidates of other parties (JDS) to withdraw in Athani and Hirekerur, he said.

    Rao charged Chief Minister Yediyurappa and Law Minister J C Madhuswamy with seeking votes in the name of Veerashaiva- Lingayats, a dominant community to which they belong to and said it was a violation of the poll code.

    The party had given a complaint with the Election Commission, but no action has yet been taken, he said.

    We will file another complaint to take it up under the Representation of the People Act.

    They should be put behind bars, sent to jail...is the community limited to them? The Chief Minister and Madhuswamy should apologize to the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community.

    We will file a legal complaint against them and after the election, if no action is taken, we will move court, he added.

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