Operation Kamal or Lotus is the term used to refer to the BJP’s alleged plan to engineer the defections of seven Opposition MLAs after the 2008 Karnataka Assembly election. As the BJP fell three seats short of a simple majority in 2008, it formed the government with help from five independent MLAs, increasing its numbers to 115.
To consolidate the government, the BJP, led by B S Yeddyurappa, had allegedly poached seven MLAs from the Opposition — four from the JD(S) and three from the Congress. Interestingly, the four JD(S) MLAs were ministers in the H D Kumaraswamy government which lasted for a little over a year. All four won in the subsequent bypolls. They were Umesh Katti from Hukkeri constituency, Shivana Gouda from Devadurg, Balachandra Jarakiholi from Arabhavi and Anand Asnotikar from Karwar.
The defections triggered bypolls, forcing the MLAs to seek reelection on the BJP ticket. The bypolls, held in December 2008, saw the BJP win five out of the eight seats. While seven seats fell vacant due to the defections, the bypoll for the Maddur constituency was held following the death of a sitting JD(S) MLA. The remaining three went to the JD(S). The Congress had failed to win a single seat. This saw the BJP tally rise to 120 in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly, strengthening Yeddyurappa’s position as chief minister.
In 2018, with the Congress and JD(S) coming together to deny the BJP a second shot at forming the government, the coalition camp is accusing the party of reaching out to its MLAs for support. JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy, without naming any party, on Wednesday claimed that his MLAs have been offered Rs 100 crore each to defect. In a direct challenge to the BJP, Kumaraswamy said he would poach double the number of MLAs if they even try to persuade one to defect. “Forget ‘Operation Kamal’ being successful, there are people who are ready to leave BJP and come with us. If you try to poach one from ours, we’ll do the same and take double from you. I’m also telling the Governor to not take any decision which encourages horse-trading,” he was quoted by ANI as saying.