It’s a no-strings-attached battle with ethics and morals thrown out of window in politics of Karnataka. In what naturally happens in hung assembly situation, the parties are now trying their best to keep their flock intact and attract lawmakers from other parties. The three parties in question — the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (Secular) — have also reportedly tasked their party strongmen to poach MLAs from other groups and keep their men fenced at the same time. Going by a report by The Indian Express, Bellary MP B Sreeramulu and Reddy brothers are the key players tasked with keeping the BJP grouping intact, and attract MLAs from the other parties at the same time.
For the Congress, Vokkaliga strongman D K Shivakumar, who hosted 43 Gujarat MLAs for the party ahead of a Rajya Sabha poll in 2017, is the key person repeating the job again. To rope in other MLAs, the Byrathi brothers, businessmen and close associates of former CM Siddaramaiah, are key players. Real estate businessman and MP Kupendra Reddy is reportedly doing the job for JD(S).
Primarily, the saffron party leaders are contacting Congress and JD(S) leaders who they believe are vulnerable. In 2008, Reddy brothers had resorted to the same strategy and helped the BJP form a stable government after the party fell short of three seats in the 224-member assembly. Initially, the BJP formed a government with help of independents. Later, the party increased its number by eight by getting MLAs resign from the Congress and JD(S) and later got them elected on BJP tickets to stabilize the government in the state.
Citing sources, the IE reports that BJP’s Reddy brothers and MLA B Sreeramulu have approached six Congress MLAs from Bellary, four JD(S) MLAs and two Independents.
Earlier, the saffron brigade targeted newly elected MLAs from the Congress having old ties with the BJP. Also, there are some MLAs who are said nto be unhappy with the Congress-JD(S) alliance and win a re-election from their constituencies if they choose to quit as Congress MLAs.
Meanwhile, the JD(S) is reportedly concerned about its MLAs being targeted. On Wednesday, JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy alleged that their MLAs were offered Rs 100 crore and cabinet-rank posts to break away. “I want to know whether that money will be black or white. Where has BJP stashed the money? Is it going to give it from its party fund?”he said. “If they try to take our MLAs away, they should know we can do the same to them,’’ the leader added.