BJP trying to bribe its way to power, claims Kumaraswamy as jockeying begins in Karnataka for government formation

The JD(S)-Congress combine's Chief Ministerial candidate H D Kumaraswamy today claimed the BJP offered his MLAs Rs 100 crore in bribes to break ranks and back the BJP in government formation.

Published: 16th May 2018 03:40 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2018 08:43 PM   |  A+A-

JD(S) President HD Kumaraswamy (Express photo | Nagaraja Gadekal)

By PTI

BENGALURU: Toiling hard to control the levers of power in Karnataka, the BJP and JD(S)-Congress combine today staked claim to form the government amid bribery charges by the newly formed alliance's leader H D Kumaraswamy against the BJP that it offered his MLAs Rs 100 crore to break ranks and back the saffron party.

The allegations were promptly dismissed by the BJP, with Union minister Prakash Javadekar dubbing them as "imaginary".

Outgoing chief minister Siddaramaiah mounted a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that he was encouraging "horsetrading" to ensure the BJP returned to power in the state despite falling short of a majority.

The BJP's B S Yeddyurappa and JD(S)'s Kumaraswamy were elected leaders of their respective legislative groups and went to Raj Bhavan where they staked claim to form the government, a day after Karnataka delivered a split verdict in the Assembly polls.

It was their second meeting with Governor Vajubhai Vala since yesterday.

Soon after his election, Kumaraswamy made the stunning claim that the BJP offered the MLAs of his party Rs 100 crore and ministerial berths if they broke away and backed the saffron party in government formation.

"Our MLAs were offered Rs 100 crore by the BJP to break away.

I want to know whether this is black or white money," he told a press conference.

"The JD(S)-Congress combine has 116 MLAs (including JD(S) pre-poll ally the BSP). The BJP is trying to misuse its power being at the Centre and form its government through horsetrading," he said.

Javadekar strongly rebutted the allegations, saying "This (talk of) Rs 100 crore, Rs 200 crore is imaginary. The BJP is not doing this. We are not in the habit of practising horsetrading. This is the kind of politics JD(S) and Congress do. We are going by the rule book and we will form the government."

The allegation was, however, repeated by outgoing chief minister Siddaramaiah, who accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of encouraging horsetrading so the BJP returned to power.

"Narendra Modi is encouraging horsetrading. The governor has to give (the first) opportunity (for forming the government) to us," he told reporters.

Reacting to reports about some of the 78 newly elected Congress MLAs having skipped its legislature party meeting annd cosying up to the BJP, Siddaramaiah said, "We are all united".

D K Shivakumar, the resourceful minister in the Siddaramaiah government who had hosted party lawmakers from Gujarat at a resort in Karnataka to prevent "poaching" by the BJP ahead of Rajya Sabha elections in that state, also claimed two MLAs from the Ballari region who were reportedly missing were with the Congress.

"Nagendra and Anand Singh are in touch with us. All 78 MLAs are together. If we are not, people will beat us," he told TV channel India Today. Soon after his election as the BJP legislature party leader, Yeddyurappa made a dash for Raj Bhavan and later told reporters that he was "100 per cent confident" that he would be invited to form the government.

Kumaraswamy, in his interaction with journalists, claimed the BJP was trying to repeat "Operation Kamala" to come to power.

"Operation Kamala" was a term used in 2008 when the BJP did not have a majority of its own in the Assembly and its leaders managed to persuade three Congress and four JD(S) MLAs to resign, allegedly by offering them money and office.

They later contested by-polls on BJP ticket and five of them.

It did the trick for the BJP as their resignations brought down the number required to prove majority in the House.

Talking to reporters after meeting the governor, Kumaraswamy said,"In a post-poll alliance of JD(S) and Congress and our pre-poll alliance with BSP, we altogether have 117 MLAs (the alliance claimed an independent MLA was backig it) and the letter of their support has been given to governor."

Kumaraswamy said the governor told the delegation that he would come to a decision after consulting legal experts on the Supreme Court judgments and inform the alliance about it.

State Congress president G Parameshwara, who accompanied Kumaraswamy, said Vala told the delegation that he would act in accordance with the law and the Constitution, and also look at the precedents in states like Goa, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur where post-poll alliances were invited to form the government.

There were reports that MLAs of the JD(S) and Congress would be lodged in tourist resorts to ward off threats of "poaching" by the BJP.

According to some reports, the Congress is likely to move court if the governor does not invite the Kumaraswamy-led alliance to form government.

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