If ‘resort politics’ being enacted from Bengaluru to Mumbai is making the Congress nervous in Karnataka, it is the low margin of victory in Madhya Pradesh and farmer unrest in Rajasthan that is giving Rahul Gandhi’s party sleepless nights. But how genuine is BJP’s ‘Operation Lotus’?
New Delhi: Karnataka Congress leader DK Sivakumar told news agency PTI this morning, “Operation Lotus is for real. There are three Congress MLAs in a Mumbai hotel with BJP leaders.” Shivakumar was referring to a ‘change of guard’ in the southern state where the BJP is allegedly luring several opposition MLAs to its side and a change of government looks highly possible.
Though chief minister Kumaraswamy as well as BJP leaders have rubbished the allegations, it's no secret that a sizeable section of BJP MLAs from Karnataka are camping in Delhi. Five Congress MLAs, including Ramesh Jarakiholi, who had recently threatened to quit Congress after being dropped from the state Cabinet, are unreachable. All of them are believed to be in Mumbai.
Currently, the BJP is nine short of the magic number of 113 in the Karnataka Assembly. The Congress has called an emergency meeting in Bengaluru, but an alarm has been sounded in freshly won Madhya Pradesh, where the Congress has a wafer-thin majority. While Rajasthan had a greater margin of seats, the vote share of the Congress was not worth a celebration by the party.
In Madhya Pradesh, Congress has 114 seats (including the Speaker) with the support two MLAs of the BSP, one from the SP MLA and four independents. On the other hand, BJP has 109 MLAs. With the magic number being 116, the BJP needs just 7 MLAs from the current dispensation under Kamal Nath that will bring the BJP back to power and take the Congress off the government. With the current churning going on in Karnataka, where even the Congress's 'troubleshooter' Shivakumar is getting jittery, the party leadership is getting restless in Madhya Pradesh as well.
Just a few days ago, BJP's leader from Madhya Pradesh Kailash Vijayvargiya told his party cadre at a meeting, "The day I get a signal from the top leadership, this government (of Kamal Nath) will be toppled… We can topple it in 15 days. Bahut mamuli baat hai. Par unhen janaadesh mila, chalaane dete hain. (It’s a very simple thing. But they have got the mandate, let them govern). The comment that was seen to be BJP's frustration at losing one of its citadels from the Hindi heartland is suddenly being taken seriously by the Congress's state leadership in view of Karnataka.
Can BJP get three MLAs from the SP and BSP with whom it is at loggerheads? Is toppling the government that easy? A BJP leader from Madhya Pradesh told MyNation requesting anonymity, "I think you guys are reading too much into Kailash ji's statement. But if we have to form the government, it's not that a big issue. Don't forget about four independents and a nominated candidate. But are we interested? Not at this point." Not convinced, the Congress is preparing a Plan B.
The situation in Rajasthan is not as delicate as that in Madhya Pradesh since the BJP is way behind the magic number: 28 to be precise. But the Ashok Gehlot government seems to be more worried than that of Kamal Nath. And there's a reason to it. Right after the Congress government was sworn in, the state witnessed unexpected farmer protests.
Hundreds of farmers accompanied by their families took to the streets after failing to procure urea, a pivotal ingredient for agriculture, even after standing for hours in long queues in front of counters at urea distribution points. In the latter half of December, there were reports of a stampede-like situation in many parts of Rajasthan, particularly from Dei district, for the sudden urea deficit that was due to unavailability of transportation.
In spite of a loan waiver announcement, riding on which Gehlot came to power, the farmer disenchantment continued even in January. This time, moong dal farmers protested as they were not getting an adequate price for their product. In Churu, the situation has been extremely tense.
It's barely a month that the new government has come to power and anti-incumbency has started to settle in. Political representatives are being regularly petitioned. The BSP with six seats, the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) with two, the RLD with one andnine independents are with the Congress-led government. These MLAs are feeling the heat of the widespread farmer agitation too early into the government. Moreover, many of them haven't got plum posts, which has caused disaffection of the allies.
The BJP is said to be in talks with several of the disgruntled elements. Also, the party ruling at the Centre is believed to be in talks with three MLAs of RLP that are in the opposition. The RLP was founded by Hanuman Beniwal who is a former BJP leader who later founded this party after being suspended from the ‘saffron’ party. So, there's hardly any love lost between the two.
MyNation spoke to at least three BJP leaders who have rubbished on record the possibility of wooing away MLAs from the ruling coalition, but most of them admitted that the possibility of a few MLAs who are supporting the Gehlot government resigning from their post is not asambhav (impossible) before the 2019 election. However, when about the anti-defection law that would come in play once the rebels resign, the sources refused to give further details.
Is the media reading too much into ‘Operation Lotus’, the name the rumoured exercise of the BJP has earned from Karnataka Congress? Will Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan government be indeed fiddled with? If yes, will it be before the Lok Sabha election? These are questions that have suddenly found relevance with ‘resort politics' nataka being back in Karnataka.
Last Updated 6:44 PM IST