Bengaluru: In May 2018, when the Congress joined hands with the JD(S) in Karnataka to form the coalition government, the state witnessed chaos, with the Congress MLAs whisked to Eagleton resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru. They alleged that the BJP was indulging in horse trading. Former chief minister Siddaramaiah was aloof, claiming that he was “going with the flow”. This implies he had lost his clout. 

In 2019, it may be HD Kumaraswamy who is the chief minister but those who know Siddaramaiah are well aware of his arrogance. “Wouldn’t he want that clout and remain as the man who calls the shots?” said a source close to Siddaramaiah.

MLAs like Bhima Naik and Nagendra, who were in the list of dissident leaders, are followers of Siddaramaiah.

According to party sources, this was Siddaramaiah’s game plan. He directed the whole drama to allow the government to sail through stormy seas. And then emerged as the ‘hero’, overshadowing the chief minister and the deputy chief minister G Parameshwara when he called the disgruntled MLAs back into the party’s fold. Parameshwara, during a recent interaction with the media, accepted that it was the Congress’ fault.

BJP sources say that they didn’t moot the plan ‘Operation Lotus’ at all. They were the MLAs of the ruling coalition who had got in touch with the opposition party. “Will we then not pursue it?” said a party leader, wishing to remain anonymous.

Whether the temptation to topple the government was a trap is not clear. What is beyond doubt is the fact that the BJP was unable to gather enough numbers for a majority in the Assembly. “We needed to get 13, but we managed to gather just nine MLAs,” said a source close to the BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa. 

However, the BJP, at this stage, is not willing to give up. The Congress may be revelling in the fact that three MLAs are back in its camp. However, there is no word from key leaders like Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Iranagouda Kumathalli, who are reportedly spearheading the move.

Does this mean ‘Operation Lotus’ is still on? BJP’s general secretary CT Ravi said, “It’s a trade secret.”