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Murmurs of 'Operation Kamala' doing rounds: Will it be 2008 all over again in Karnataka?

By Vikas

Whenever there is a hung assembly post elections, talks of 'horse trading' and 'MLA poaching' start doing rounds. Now that the political situation is precariously poised in Karnataka, the term 'Operation Kamala' is cropping up again and again since yesterday (May 15). Former Karnataka chief minister Veerappa Moily, after Congress leaders' meeting with the Governor, had hinted that the BJP may resort to 'Operation Kamala'.

Murmurs of Operation Kamala doing rounds: Will it be 2008 all over again?

Before getting into what Operation Kamala is all about, we must first understand the current political situation in Karnataka after assembly elections. The result of the Karnataka assembly elections 2018 was announced yesterday and the BJP emerged as the single largest party by bagging 104 seats in a 224 seat assembly (polling was held in 222 seats on May 12). The BJP ended up eight seats short of the majority mark which gave the Congress and the JD (S) to cobble up an alliance and stake a claim to form the government. Congress-JD (S) combine has 118 seats, which is well above the halfway mark needed to form the government.

Both sides have met the Governor and staked their claims, and now the ball is in Vajubhai Vala's court. There are two options that the Governor has. He can either accept the Congress-JD (S)' claim of having needed support and ask them to prove it on the floor of the House, or he can say that the single largest party should be given the first chance to prove majority in the assembly. There is no rule that binds the Governor to select a particular course of action. It is totally the Governor's discretion as to what decision he takes.

What is now being talked about is that if the BJP is given a week's time to prove majority on the floor of the House, there could be MLA poaching. BJP may try to woo MLAs from either the Congress or the JD (S) to reach the magic 112 seats mark. There were also reports that the BJP is indeed in touch with some disgruntled Congress MLAs.

"They (BJP) are poaching our MLAs, we know that. Everyday there is a lot of pressure. But it not so easy because two parties have the necessary number. People are watching this," Congress leader DK Shivakumar told news agency ANI.

He also said that there is a plan to 'safeguard MLAs'. "Yes definitely there is a plan," he said.

"We heard that they are trying to do Operation Kamala now also," JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy said after meeting Governor Vajubhai Vala to stake claim to form government with Congress support. "Let them try," he added.

Congress MLA Amaregouda Linganagouda Patil Bayyapur said that he was in fact contacted by the BJP and offered a cabinet berth.

" I got a call from the BJP leaders. They said come to us and we'll give a ministry to you. We'll make you a minister. But, I'm going to stay here. HD Kumaraswamy is our Chief Minister," Bayyapur told ANI.

What is Operation Kamala?

"Operation Kamala" was a term coined in 2008, when BJP was in a situation similar to the current one and was three seats short of majority to form the government under BS Yeddyurappa. Former minister and minelord G Janardhana Reddy worked out a method to circumvent the Anti-Defection Law and secured the support of legislators needed to take BJP past the 112-mark.

BJP, through Reddy and some other senior leaders, managed to make three Congress and four JDS legislators resign from their seats, allegedly by offering political and money power. The seven contested by-elections on BJP ticket -- five of them won and took the party's official strength in the house from 110 to 115.

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