Fear of reverse ‘Operation Lotus’ haunts K’taka BJP ahead of 2024
Bengaluru: Even as the poll bugle was sounded for 2024 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the prospects of the saffron party in Karnataka, which was considered the gateway to south India for the party seem to be bleak.
The BJP state unit is still waiting for the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition in the legislative assembly and council even three months after the poll results were declared on May 10.
The Congress is all set to avenge “Operation Lotus” through which the BJP came to power in the state by poaching the grand old party’s leadership. The BJP leadership is making frantic efforts to retain its leaders in its fold. Dy Chief Minister and Karnataka Congress president D.K. Shivakumar has stated that anything can happen in politics and nothing is permanent.
Sources said that the Congress party has given a specific task to poach leaders from the BJP. The party has prepared a list of 13 to 15 prominent leaders who can win elections on their own and draw them in. If it happens, the BJP will suffer a major blow.
Sources within the BJP said that the high command is still upset with the state leaders following the humiliating defeat in the assembly elections. The Congress, buoyed by its success in Karnataka, has launched the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), a new version of the UPA and is challenging the BJP at the national level.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and slammed his attempt to take a jibe at family politics during his Independence Day speech delivered from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Siddaramaiah has also announced that the Congress would win 20 seats in the state in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
There is no voice in the Karnataka BJP to counter the combined attacks of Siddaramaiah and D.K. Shivakumar. The party’s old warhorse who brought the BJP to power in Karnataka, former CM B.S. Yediyurappa, occasionally makes an appearance and issues statements. Former CM Basavaraj Bommai is presently managing the show.
Congress leaders are chiding the BJP that never in the history of the state legislature, has the budget session been conducted without a Leader of the Opposition in Karnataka. They also point fingers at infighting within the party.
The state’s political circles are abuzz with rumours of a “Reverse Operation Lotus” or “Operation Hast”. Sources said that the Congress is planning to pull leaders to ensure the defeat of major BJP leaders. Sources said that senior BJP leader V. Somanna was approached by the Congress to defeat BJP Yuva Morcha national president Tejasvi Surya from the Bengaluru South seat. They said that the Congress is contemplating fielding Sowmya Reddy, former MLA and daughter of Minister for Transport Ramalinga Reddy, against Tejasvi Surya in the Lok Sabha polls.
Party sources stated that former CM Jagadish Shettar will take on Union Minister for Mines, Coal and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi for the Hubballi seat. The Congress is trying to ensure the defeat of Union Minister for State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Shobha Karandlaje from the Udupi Chikkamagaluru MP seat.
Though the BJP managed to retain all the Udupi district assembly seats, the party had to bite the dust in Chikkamagaluru district as Congress won all the seats. Former BJP national general secretary and prominent Vokkaliga leader C.T. Ravi was defeated by the Congress candidate. Dy CM Shivakumar is focused to register a victory here as well.
The BJP state leadership is looking towards the high command for a tonic but New Delhi seems to have lost all hope. Barring Union Home Minister Amit Shah and national president J.P. Nadda meeting BJP MLA B.Y. Vijayendra and former CM Basavaraj Bommai, nothing has moved.
The Congress is going from strength to strength by implementing its guarantee schemes in the state. It is ensuring that the minority vote bank remains intact through a slew of measures. The syllabus for children was modified and the party has removed lessons on the BJP’s iconic figure Veer Savarkar and RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. The major Dalit vote bank seems to be standing with the grand old party. Shivakumar is ensuring that the Vokkaliga vote bank remains intact. There are no signs of the Lingayat vote bank rallying behind the BJP.
CM Siddaramaiah and Dy CM Shivakumar have repeatedly warned of strict action against cow vigilantism and moral policing. The BJP though tried to make a comeback with the restroom video case in Udupi College, but it failed to generate a response from across the state.