Bengaluru: Amid speculations of ‘Operation Hasta’ going on in Karnataka to woo BJP leaders to join the Congress, former BJP Minister B C Patil and ex-MLA Narasimha Naik met Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar during the birthday party of noted Kannada film actor Sudeep Sanjeev, who is popularly known as ‘Kiccha’ Sudeep.
However, Patil and Naik on Sunday ruled out the possibility of them quitting the party and joining the Congress.
‘Operation Hasta’ is being projected as an attempt to make the leaders of opposition parties, mainly the BJP, to join the Congress.
‘Operation Hasta’ means ‘Operation Palm’ referring to the palm, which is the Congress’s party symbol. It is said to be in retaliation to the BJP’s ‘Operation Lotus’ of allegedly toppling a government and installing a dispensation headed by it as had happened in 2019 when the JD(S)-Congress coalition government collapsed due to the disqualification of 17 MLAs of the ruling alliance.
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Patil and Naik said their meeting with Shivakumar in a five-star hotel was a sheer coincidence and an unexpected one. ”It was an unexpected meeting. I did not expect that Shivakumar would come there,” Patil told reporters.
Naik too clarified that he has no plans to quit BJP and join the Congress. ”There is no question of undergoing any ‘operation’ because I am neither suffering from cancer nor tumour. Also, I don’t have any disease. There is no situation to go to any doctor,” he said.
He said Sudeep had thrown a party in a hotel on Saturday where the BJP leaders had gathered.
Naik, however, admitted that there is discontent in BJP and he had raised it in the party meeting recently.
Explaining further, he said during the recent meeting he had told senior party leaders to appoint a Leader of Opposition and constitute a team with new state BJP president. It will help the party gear up for the upcoming Lok Sabha election, Naik said.
According to him, people are eager to vote for the BJP in the Parliamentary election and that the delay in the appointment may drive people away from the party, which should not happen.
Naik admitted that the party has been seeing a downfall after removing BJP stalwart B S Yediyurappa from the post of Chief Minister in July 2021.
”After removing B S Yediyurappa from the post of Chief Minister, to some extent our downfall started, which did not pick up again. There is no second thought about it. Now, Yediyurappa is at the forefront. Vijayendra (Yediyurappa’s son) is also there. Yediyurappa is doing his job of building the party,” he added.
The former BJP MLA said Yediyurappa speaks over phone twice a week to all leaders who lost the election. ”He (Yediyurappa) talks to us just like a father, just like the head of the family speaks to the children. Yediyurappa is not sitting idle. He is trying to solve our problems. He is also talking to all of us. We will contest the election under his leadership,” Naik said.
Meanwhile, a war of words broke out between Karnataka Infrastructure Development Minister M B Patil and former BJP Minister C N Ashwath Narayan over ‘Operation Hasta’. Narayan alleged that the Congress is trying to blackmail the BJP leaders.
”Today, Congress is a sinking ship. It has no future. They are trying to blackmail by saying that these people are joining our party. They (Congress) will fail,” he said.
He also said no one should draw any conclusion based on someone meeting with people in power.
Reacting to the blackmailing jibe, Minister Patil said, ”It means BJP people have done something, which makes them prone to blackmailing. You can be blackmailed only if you have done something. Now, Ashwath Narayan has spelt out the truth.” The minister said someone should ask Narayan what blackmail has happened.
A few days ago, former BJP ministers S T Somashekar and Arabail Shivaram Hebbar, and former BJP MLA M P Renukacharya had met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy CM Shivakumar.
Somashekar, Shivaram Hebbar and B C Patil were among the 13 disqualified Congress MLAs in 2019, who had resigned from their party and Karnataka assembly, bringing down the coalition government.
Soon after the regime collapsed, BJP came to power in Karnataka. The three leaders along with other disqualified MLAs joined the BJP, contested the bypolls and became ministers in the new government.