Karnataka Minister and senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar said the BJP's ''Operation Lotus'' to topple the state's coalition government was for real, alleging that three Congress MLAs were camping in a hotel in Mumbai in the "company of some BJP leaders". "Horse trading is going on in the state. Three of our MLAs are in Mumbai in a hotel with some BJP MLAs and leaders. We are aware of what has transpired there and how much has been offered to them," he said. Operation Lotus is a reference to the BJP allegedly luring several opposition MLAs to defect to ensure stability of its then-government headed by BS Yeddyurappa in Karnataka in 2008.
Shivakumar, who had earned the reputation of being a "trouble-shooter" in the Congress for bailing out the party from many crises in the past, accused Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy of being "lenient" towards the BJP.
Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy: All 3 of them (Congress MLAs) are continuously in contact with me. They went to Mumbai after informing me. My govt isn't under any threat. I know who all BJP is trying to contact & what they're offering. I can handle it, why should media be concerned? pic.twitter.com/GJSJlmNDp8— ANI (@ANI) January 14, 2019
Union Minister & BJP leader DV Sadananda Gowda: They (Congress) should keep their house in order. They are not able to keep their MLAs in Karnataka together and just simply pin pointing at BJP. pic.twitter.com/gouy5FPEwd— ANI (@ANI) January 14, 2019
Karnataka Dy CM G Parameshwara: BJP leaders are saying this govt will fall. But it won't happen. Some of our MLAs have gone, they can go for temples, holiday, family outings, we don't know. Nobody said that they're going to join BJP & destabilise the govt. All our MLAs are intact pic.twitter.com/VFUdXlBuvg— ANI (@ANI) January 14, 2019
"Our chief minister is bit lenient towards the BJP. By ''lenient'', I mean he is not exposing the facts he knows. All the MLAs have conveyed to the chief minister about the ongoing conspiracies. They have also told Siddaramaiah about it," he said.
"The chief minister is adopting a policy of wait and watch. If I was in his place, I would have exposed it within 24 hours," Shivakumar said.
Karnataka Dy CM G Parameshwara: Today I had called all our ministers, belonging to our party in this coalition, to discuss the next budget which is going to be presented by the CM in the first week of February & also to take stock of implementation of last year budget provision pic.twitter.com/1NVczEJcND— ANI (@ANI) January 14, 2019
Karnataka Minister & Congress leader Krishna Byre Gowda: The fact is BJP is indulging in poaching undemocratically, against democratically established Karnataka govt. BJP is behind efforts to de-stabilise this govt. It is not specific to today. pic.twitter.com/ic4ITlzQHz— ANI (@ANI) January 14, 2019
The minister said former chief minister Siddaramaiah and Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao were aware of the development. Shivakumar, however, exuded confidence that the BJP would not succeed in its attempt.
"You have been saying that a 'kranti' [revolution] may happen after Makar Sankranti. Let us see. It is not so easy because there is already anti-defection law in place, but we are aware of what you are hinting at," he said in an apparent reference to the opposition BJP in the state.
The minister also wondered why the income tax department and the anti-corruption bureau failed to initiate any action on a complaint by Dinesh Gundu Rao on the matter.
"We do not know what progress these two agencies have made so far, but sitting on the complaint by a political party is not good," he said.
Many Congress MLAs in Karnataka have alleged that they were approached by the BJP leaders to quit their party and join them.
The BJP has trashed the charges, saying the coalition partners were hiding their shortcomings and internal strife by making false accusations at the opposition.