Speculation rife that MLAs may be sent to Hyderabad, and maybe Punjab.
Bengaluru: Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot as well as new ally JD(S) chief H.D. Kumaraswamy rushed to Eagleton Resorts in the outskirts of the city late on Wednesday, soon after governor Vajubhai Vala formally invited BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa to take the oath as chief minister at 9 am on Thursday, in a bid to ensure that their legislators were moved to safety and would not be the target of Operation Kamala 2.0, or face income-tax raids and body warrants that would require their detention.
The governor ended feverish speculation on Mr Yeddyurappa’s second ascension to the post of chief minister when he issued a formal letter after verbally inviting him to take the oath late Wednesday.
Critically, Mr Vala has given the BJP government 15 days’ time to prove his majority, which made the JD(S) and Congress fast forward plans to move their legislators out of Karnataka and into Congress-friendly states like AndhraPradesh and possibly Punjab to avoid a repeat of poaching of legislators that marked Mr Yeddyurappa’s first time as chief minister in 2008 when he was short of three MLAs.
The rush to move the MLAs out was necessitated by alerts received by the JD(S)-Congress that the BJP had made serious overtures to at least 12 legislators in the Congress-JD(S)-Independents camp. The BJP’s strategy is to ensure some of the Congress and JD(S) MLAs it is wooing skip the floor test and ensure the victory of BJP CM B.S. Yeddyurappa.
At a later date, the legislators who have switched camps and had skipped the floor test will face disqualification from the Assembly. To avoid this, the tactic is to resign from Assembly membership and face elections again.
High level sources have told this newspaper that the BJP is sure to prove its majority in the House within a fortnight. Party president Amit Shah has reportedly assured incoming chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa that he will be able to prove his majority within the scheduled time given to him by the governor. “The party’s tally should cross 116 minimum,” said the source, indicating that the BJP is sure of poaching more than 12 legislators from the Congress-JD(S)-Independents combine.
Soon after the news broke of BSY’s lone swearing-in on Thursday, the JDS MLAs checked out of the swank Shangri-La Hotel in the city and were moved to an undisclosed destination with speculation running high that they could be moved to Hyderabad.
Mr Kumaraswamy, who conferred with party supremo H.D. Deve Gowda, has publicly aired his concerns that apart from tapping their phones, the BJP government
at the Centre was preparing to launch income-tax raids on his legislators, as they had done when Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar had sequestered Congress
legislators from Gujarat at the Eagleton Resort here.
The move to Hyderabad could take place as early as Thursday morning. This will include the 78 Congress legislators who are camping at Eagleton Resorts here.
Both the parties fear that the BJP would use the Central agencies like the I-T department to armtwist the MLAs to switch their loyalty, sources said.
The BJP may target those who joined the Congress Party in the recent past. Sources in the Congress said leaders like Akhanda Srinivasamurthy and B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan were in the BJP’s crosshairs as were another eight to 10 legislators who will make up the shortfall of MLAs needed to shore up the BJP’s numbers during the crucial floor test.