Will 2018 poll witness BJP’s ‘poach-all’ operation?

Bengaluru: In a re-run of the 2008 politics in Karnataka, the Congress has alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has started indulging in horse trading and accosting their leaders to reach the magic number of 113 in the 2018 Assembly elections.

Desperate to return to power, the BJP has decided to rope-in politically influential candidates from other parties through ‘Operation Kamala’ to gain a majority.

At a party core committee meeting held in Bengaluru yesterday under the leadership of Karnataka election in-charge and Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, it was decided to induct other party leaders into BJP seeing their popularity and capacity to win a seat.

The ‘Operation Kamala’ is essentially simple. Elected representatives and grassroot representatives of other political parties are lured into joining the BJP, allegedly with the dangle of political power as well as money. With this, the BJP achieves two purposes — strengthening itself while eating away the grassroot network of the opposition parties.

Party sources said that BJP State President and former CM B.S. Yeddyurappa, former CM Jagadish Shettar and former Deputy CM R. Ashok have been entrusted with the responsibility of looking for winning horses, especially from the Congress and the JD(S).

Already, a list of 60 potential candidates from other parties has been prepared and they will be approached after getting a green signal from the High Command and the State leaders. The party firmly believes that it will gain extra strength if other party leaders come to its fold.

At the same time, the party is also cautious to tap only such candidates who will not demand plum posts after winning the elections on a BJP ticket. It has decided not to promise anything while inviting other party leaders into BJP, sources said.

The BJP will sound the poll bugle in Karnataka on Nov. 2 led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Party President Amit Shah and cadres across the party have been asked to work towards the grand success of the convention. However, the place of the convention is yet to be decided.

Sources said that the BJP’s original target of 150 seats may be slightly difficult to achieve and hence it is focussing on achieving the magic number of 113 and above by hook or crook.

Also, poll survey agency Creative Center for Political and Social Studies (COPS), commissioned by the BJP has given it a projection of 113 seats while the pre-poll survey by C-Fore predicted 60 to 70 seats as against 120 to 132 seats for the Congress. Sure of winning over 75 seats, the BJP is building a strategy to stretch it up to 120 seats with the help of other party leaders who are willing to cross over to BJP, sources added.

The Congress, on its part, is saying that the people will show the BJP its place and ‘Operation Kamala’ will not work as the Congress has given good administration for five years, said a Congress leader.

Political analysts, however, caution that the poaching strategy drawn up by the BJP might boomerang. If other political parties which have the capacity to influence elected representatives by whatever means also react to this elsewhere, the BJP might be at the receiving end, an analyst said.