The Congress’s Karnataka unit today claimed that some BJP legislators and leaders have evinced interest in joining the party, ahead of the 2018 Assembly elections in the state. “Some BJP legislators and leaders have expressed interest in joining our party and are in touch with us. But it is difficult to take everyone in as we will have our party leaders in those constituencies,” Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President G Parameshwara told reporters here. “We will have to think before taking them in,” he said. Parameshwara, however, said a decision has already been made to take in seven rebel leaders from the Janata Dal Secular. The seven rebel JDS MLAs are Zameer Ahmed Khan (Chamarajpet), N Chaluvarayaswamy (Mandya), Akhanda Srinivasamurthy (Pulakeshinagar), H C Balakrishna (Magadi), Bhima Naik (Hagaribommanahalli), Ramesh Bandisiddegowda (Srirangapatna) and Iqbal Ansari (Gangavathi). They had earlier met Congress President Rahul Gandhi for joining the party.
JDS had suspended them in June 2016 for voting against its official candidate and supporting the Congress in the biennial elections to fill four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka. Questioned whether Congress was attempting an ‘Operation Hasta (hand)’, similar to the ‘Operation Kamala’ by the BJP when it was in power, Parameshwara said, “You may call it anything…they are willing to join the party.”
‘Operation Kamala’ saw the BJP winning over many opposition MLAs, who resigned from their party and joined the saffron party, and won elections on its ticket. The strategy had helped the BJP secure a comfortable majority in the Assembly under the chief ministership of BS Yeddyurappa. The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief also described BJP national President Amit Shah’s visit to the city yesterday as an attempt to stop internal fighting within the party state unit.
“Naturally during the visit, he has spoken about the election. His visit will have no impact on us. Our strategy is beyond theirs, so it will make no difference,” he said. Shah, during his meeting with party leaders here, had held discussions regarding strategies for securing a win in the 2018 Assembly polls. Parameshwara also said that Rahul Gandhi is expected to visit Karnataka by the end of this month. Dates for his visit are yet to yet to finalised, he said.