The resignations of two Congress MLAs could trigger more, destabilising the JDS-Congress Karnataka government
It appears that the Janata Dal Secular-Congress coalition government in Karnataka will remain on the edge for the third consecutive time in a year with two Congress legislators sending in their resignation from the membership of the legislative assembly.
The two MLAs, Ramesh Jarkiholi and Anand Singh, in a surprise development sent in their resignation letters to Speaker Ramesh Kumar.
And, the latter even went a step further to submit the same letter to Governor Vajubhai Vala.
Sources within the BJP confirmed that it was the launch of Operation Kamala 4.0.
This Karnataka innovation is the subversion of the anti-defection law. It entails the resignation of the members elected on Congress and the JDS tickets and their subsequent re-election on a BJP ticket.
The resignation of Jarkiholi, the first dissident after he was dropped from the ministry on grounds of non-performance last December, confirms what BJP leaders said on condition of anonymity.
In the last seven months, Jarkiholi has been away, largely in Mumbai, holed up with disgruntled members of the Congress legislature party. His two earlier attempts did not succeed because he could not muster the adequate number to bring down the coalition government.
One BJP leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said that “in the next few days, MLAs belonging to both the Congress and the JDS will be resigning in one’s and two’s.”
At the end of this Operation Kamala 4.0, the BJP hopes to get, at least, 13 more MLAs so that the strength of the assembly falls to 207 or 209 from 224 which is the actual strength of the House.
This would help the current strength of the BJP in the assembly of 105 members appear like the only party which has a majority in the assembly. This would help it come to power in the state.
“We do not intend remaining in power like this but we hope to go in for mid-term elections sometime in October or even December, when states like Maharashtra will also for assembly elections,’’ said a BJP leader on condition of anonymity.
Operation Kamala was first launched in 2008 when BS Yeddyurappa led his party to a remarkable victory. The BJP won 110 seats in the 224 member assembly.
The number fell short of the half-way mark or simple majority by two members. It was then that the BJP lured Congress and JDS legislators and got them to resign from the membership of the assembly.
Once the by-elections were conducted, five of the eight members who had resigned, got elected on the BJP ticket. The remaining three seats went to the Congress and the JDS.
But, as soon as the assembly election results in May 2018 showed that the BJP was likely to form the government, the Congress delivered the biggest blow to the BJP’s campaign of ‘Congress-mukht Bharat’ by offering the chief ministership to HD Kumaraswamy of the JDS.
When Kumaraswamy expanded his ministry in December 2018, the Congress decided to drop Ramesh Jarkiholi from the ministry on grounds of non-performance. Jarkiholi became the first dissident.
His efforts to lure enough number of MLAs to bring down the government failed in Operation Kamala 2.0. In January, Operation Kamala 3.0 was launched with a handful of MLAs joining Jarkiholi at a Mumbai hotel. Then, again, it failed because the required number could not be achieved.
But, chief minister HD Kumaraswamy remains confident. Kumaraswamy, who is on a private visit to the US, in a tweet said: “I'm at Kalabhairaveshwara temple foundation laying ceremony (in New Jersey). I'm watching TV channels. Destabilising government continues to be a daydream of BJP.”
Former MP and Congress leader VS Ugrappa blamed BJP national president and union minister Amit Shah and state party chief Yeddyurappa of being a threat not only to the state government but to democracy and the Constitution as well. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks about one nation, one election but it can be believed only if democracy is not subverted,” he said.