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Operation Lotus: An unwanted adventure, when focus should have been the LS polls


Bengaluru, Jan 17: Another misadventure by the Karnataka has come to an end, with some rebels in the Congress returning to their fold. It began with the fiasco of trying to install a government after the 2018 assembly elections, which was short lived.

Another attempt to install the government was made a few months back, but then the rebels in the Congress backed out again. This time, there was more drama when around 9 Congress rebels went missing and reports stated that they were in talks with the BJP.

Operation Lotus: An unwanted adventure, when focus should have been the LS polls

The BJP too moved its MLAs to Gurgaon amidst reports of counter poaching. Finally it all ended with the Congress rebels returning to their fold and Yeddyurappa telling his MLAs that the plan is not going through.

Inside story of how Siddaramaiah led the operation against Operation LotusInside story of how Siddaramaiah led the operation against Operation Lotus

The BJP must be mindful of the fact that in the 2019 elections, its best chance to win a large number of seats in south is in Karnataka. The first BJP government in south was installed in Karnataka in 2008. For the BJP, Karnataka has always been the gateway to the south.

Now, the question was such adventurism necessary in a crucial election year when the party is looking to return to power? Has this exercise of desperately trying to install a government in Karnataka taken the focus away from the 2019 Lok Sabha campaign.

I have always said in Karnataka, the BJP's state and central units are not in sync. This was seen in the 2018 elections and due to the lack of coordination, the BJP fell short at least by 20 seats. Had the units been in sync, the party could have easily installed its government with a comfortable majority, says leading political scientist, Dr. Sandeep Shastri.

Dr. Shastri says that the BJP has consistently faced this challenge. I think ever since the BJP lost the chance to come to power in 2018 and also the fiasco of the short lived government, it has resulted in the party losing face.

While the state unit has been in a hurry to install a government, the central leadership has been counselling patience to rock the boat. Yeddyurappa was keen on becoming the CM as he feels that his chances of getting the job after the Lok Sabha elections is bleak, says Dr Shastri.

Operation Lotus: An unwanted adventure, when focus should have been the LS polls

I feel that the central leadership would be happy for the government in Karnataka to collapse as this could pose a serious problem to the alliance in 2019. However the leadership also has at the back of its mind that bringing down a government could change the focus. The party's image would have suffered and also taken the focus away from the Prime Minister's leadership.

If you look at the recent attempt, many within the state leadership too were not keen. Barring Yeddyurappa and his followers, there was lukewarm response from others in the state unit.

If one looks at it, this was one last gamble that Yeddyurappa tried. When there is an element of desperation one tends to lose sight of the facts such as the anti-defection law and also the fact that such an operation needed more than 10 Congress MLAs to resign, says Dr. Shastri.

Operation Lotus fails againOperation Lotus fails again

Ideally, the BJP should have focused on the next Lok Sabha elections. They should have let the alliance continue and let the people watch the daily tantrums. This adventurism is more in line with the aspirations of the state leadership, which thought it did not want the moment to pass away of them coming to power.

I think this exercise has the potential to adversely affect the BJP in two ways. It has allowed the public to think of it as a destabiliser. Secondly it may have pushed the Congress and JD(S) closer.

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