Karnataka once again in the grip of resort politics

Congress saves its Karnataka government from BJP toppling bid

In Karnataka, it is back to resort politics, all calculated to paint the political adversary as the villain in the minds of the people. After a headcount of its MLAs, a somewhat relieved Congress leadership packed off all its members to a well-guarded resort to prevent poaching, allegedly by the BJP. It is being alleged that the BJP was offering huge sums of money and position of power to lure them away.

After staving off a supposed BJP bid to topple the government, the Karnataka Congress strongman DK Shivakumar bundled all the party MLAs into a luxury bus and got them driven away to a resort that he has complete control over. It was at this resort that he usually lodges MLAs and MPs of the Congress party whenever he was asked to safeguard them by the Congress leadership.

Ever since the Congress dealt a fast one on BJP by extending support to HD Kumaraswamy with his 38 JD (S) MLAs to form the government, the BJP could never stomach it. The fact that it formed the government first, by virtue of being the largest single party and first invite from the governor, did not come in the way of BJP’s efforts since that day to somehow destabilise the government.

This latest attempt, dubbed Operation Kamala 2.0 apparently had the blessings of the BJP central leadership, which blessed the state party chief BS Yeddyurappa to mount a big to wean away disgruntled Congress MLAs.

As part of this, at least four Congress MLAs surfaced in a Mumbai hotel, sparking off intense speculation over others joining them to topple the government.

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Clearly, the BJP would have needed at least 14 Congress MLAs to resign for having a realistic chance at forming its own government. But, clearly, it could not muster enough numbers. In the meanwhile, the Congress trouble-shooters got into the rescue act.

Why Karnataka becomes more important for the BJP is that it is very crucial for its south India poll strategy. In fact, BJP had won 17 out of the 28 seats in general elections in 2014. But this time around, the Congress and Janata Dal (S) combine, which had already announced fighting Lok Sabha polls together have the potential to sweep the state.

For the BJP, this is bad news as its toppling move not only failed but also damaged its image ahead of the general elections.

The issue found an echo at the opposition leaders rallies in Kolkata on Saturday, where leader after leader, pledged their support to Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and others condemned the BJP efforts to destabilize the Karnataka government and said all the BJP efforts will fail.

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The man of the moment in Karnataka, DK Shivakumar, is personally looking after the MLAs, who have now been lodged at a resort that he owns.

For the present, the trouble to Karnataka government seems to have blown over. But the threat from the BJP continues – which is why the Congress is taking absolutely no chances.

Former Chief Minister S Siddaramaiah said that the party was discussing Lok Sabha elections preparations with the MLAs at the resort.

Which is exactly the same reason that the BJP leaders offered as to why it was keeping its leaders under lock and key at a seven-star hotel in Gurugram. In fact, the BJP leaders allege that it was the Congress that was trying to poach its MLAs.

KV Lakshmana is a senior journalist who spent the last eight years in Chennai, covering Tamil Nadu, he writes about South India and all that it has to offer. He tweets at @kvlakshman

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