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Reddy’s ‘Operation Kamala’ in Karnataka: This is what its version 2.0 could look like

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Congress & JD(S) fear BJP will repeat its successful 2008 ‘Operation Kamala’ as it ropes in mining baron G. Janardhan Reddy to help form the government by trying to circumvent the anti-defection law.

New Delhi: After serving time in jail for the illegal mining case and repeatedly being distanced by the BJP national president Amit Shah, mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy has gained significance once again in the party.

The mastermind behind the infamous ‘Operation Kamala’ has been roped in once again to try and ensure a BJP government in Karnataka as the party has not won a majority and the only way it can succeed is by poaching Congress and/or Janata Dal (S) MLAs.

In 2008, when the lotus bloomed in Karnataka, the BJP was thrilled, but its happiness was short-lived. It was three seats short of a majority to form the government. At the time, the BJP high command fell back on “strategist” Reddy who coined and implemented ‘Operation Kamala’ which was merely a method to work around the anti-defection law and garner the required support to ensure that the party crossed the magic figure of 112.

Ten years later, Karnataka is faced with a similar situation. Sources in the Congress and JD(S) said ‘Operation Kamala 2.0’ may be launched as Reddy has come to the rescue again. Sources close to Reddy said that he has flown to Delhi to meet the BJP high command for discussions.

Operation Kamala part 1

The situation in 2008 was quite similar to 2018. B.S. Yeddyurappa and the BJP won 110 seats, but were three short of majority. There were massive deliberations to try and entice MLAs to join their fold as well as muster support without attracting the anti-defection law. It was at this time that Reddy devised a formula. All the BJP reportedly did was poach three Congress and four JD(S) legislators allegedly by offering them huge monetary compensation and promising ministerial berths. The legislators contested again under the BJP ticket and of the seven, five won, taking the strength of the BJP from 110 to 115, giving them a comfortable majority.

The brilliance of Operation Kamala was the BJP managed to circumvent the anti-defection law seamlessly. The law states that a member cannot be disqualified if he/she voluntarily gives up membership of the party. It is this loophole that Reddy took advantage of and ensured that the member resigns from the party membership.

The success of this formula gave the BJP such a boost that they have been trying to use this “innovation” at every given opportunity, be it at the gram panchayat level or parliamentary elections.

Operation Kamala part 2?

After the Karnataka 2018 election, a similar situation has arisen, but both H.D. Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) and Siddaramaiah of the Congress have been prepared for this “brahmastra” by the BJP.

They have tried to ensure that their MLAs are not poached. “If you try operation Kamala, we can garner twice as many MLAs from your team into our fold,” warned Kumaraswamy when asked about the possible BJP plan.

Siddaramaiah too made it clear. “Let them try, they won’t succeed,” he said, while speaking to reporters outside Raj Bhavan on 15 May.

Amid all this chaos, two MLAs who belong to the Reddy camp—Anand Singh and Nagendra—have gone incommunicado. Both MLAs crossed over to the Congress recently and won. Their association with Janardhan Reddy has been longstanding, and they have also been accused of aiding Reddy in the 16,000 crore illegal mining scam.

Though the JD(S) and the Congress have maintained that the two are with them, their absence at the legislature party meeting in Bengaluru was conspicuous.

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