On table for BJP in Karnataka: Abstentions by MLAs, rehabilitation as MLCs

The BJP has 104 of the 222 MLAs elected on Tuesday, and needs another eight to cross the halfway mark. Party leaders said the sole Independent MLA has joined the BJP, taking its tally to 105.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: May 17, 2018 4:07:25 am
BJP legislature party leaders B S Yeddyurappa, accompanied by party leaders Ananth Kumar, K Eshwarappa and others, after meeting the Governor. PTI

With the BJP “exploring all options” to ensure it forms the government in Karnataka, there is speculation that Act II of Operation Kamal, the infamous political machination from a decade ago, may be about to unfold. BJP sources said the party does not have many options other than “breaking” either the JD(S) or Congress, or “influencing” some of their MPs to abstain during the trust vote on the floor of the House. For this reason, party leaders said, they were looking at the upper house of the state legislature — seven seats will fall vacant next month, and the BJP is optimistic that it can grab at least five.

Sources familiar with the thinking in the party said the first option would be to get some MLAs to abstain from the vote of confidence — which, according to the Governor’s invitation to BJP legislature party leader B S Yedyurappa late Wednesday evening, “shall be completed within fifteen days from (his) date of assumption” of office.
“The party can ask the MLAs who are willing to support the BJP to abstain from the voting. When they are faced with a disqualification threat for violating the whip, the MLAs can resign to fight election again. Those who do not want to fight election can come to the House via the Upper House,” a party leader said.

The BJP has 104 of the 222 MLAs elected on Tuesday, and needs another eight to cross the halfway mark. Party leaders said the sole Independent MLA has joined the BJP, taking its tally to 105. According to a BJP leader who campaigned intensively in Karnataka, Lingayat MLAs in the Congress who were “unhappy” with the decision to back H D Kumaraswamy for chief ministership, would switch. “For them, their constituencies are very important. How can they go back to their voters after supporting a Vokkaliga CM?” the leader asked.

In 2008, then BJP Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa allegedly poached seven MLAs from the Opposition — four from the JD(S) and three from the Congress — five of whom went on to win the bypolls that followed.

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