Janata Dal Secular chief Deve Gowda today dubbed the Karnataka political crisis as a situation that's "worse than Emergency", and attributed the resignation of 16 legislators of the ruling coalition to the BJP's alleged eagerness to wrest power in the southern state by any means possible.
"Ever since Kumaraswamy took over as Chief Minister with the support of the Congress, (state BJP leader) BS Yeddyurappa has been trying to get some of our MLAs to cross over. Yeddyurappa has been trying to pull off Operation Kamala since 2009. Though the BJP does not have a majority, he made 10 of our MLAs resign," Deve Gowda told NDTV, even as Congress and JDS leaders could be seen pulling out all stops to bring the rebel legislators back into the fold.
Deve Gowda was very emphatic in his response when asked if he believes that the BJP offered money to the rebel legislator. "They have given, given, given, given given!" he exclaimed, adding that making HD Kumaraswamy quit has been Yeddyurappa's suprabhata (good morning wish) since the day the coalition government came into being.
The Congress and JDS have often accused the BJP of trying to poach their legislators from time to time as part of a political strategy codenamed as Operation Kamala (Operation Lotus). The BJP, however, insists that the legislators have quit their respective parties on their own accord.
Deve Gowda said it was high time all opposition parties united against the BJP because the country was under "serious threat" from the BJP. "I feel that the present situation is worse than the Emergency. DK Shivakumar went to the hotel but was denied entry despite having booked a room there... I have not seen anything like this in my 60 years of political life," news agency PTI quoted him as saying before a march taken out by Congress-JDS workers towards Raj Bhavan. "All political parties should set aside their differences and come together to save democracy."
Earlier today, Mr Shivakumar was prevented from entering a five-star hotel in Mumbai by police, who cited a letter written by rebel legislators seeking their "protection" for the action. He and Maharashtra Congress leader Milind Deora were taken into custody later in the day.
Deve Gowda also condemned the manner in which Mr Shivakumar was later escorted to the Mumbai airport by the police. "This is democracy! This is Freedom! This is Swacch Bharat!" he said sarcastically.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Congress leader Siddaramaiah declared that party members would stage protests across the state to protest the "purchase" of legislators. "I tell you that our workers will not let you travel in the state. We will create a situation that will prevent you from meeting the people," he said.
Siddaramaiah also condemned the rebel legislators for putting the ruling coalition in such a precarious situation. "They have gone for money and power. They have sold themselves. I am appealing to all those who have camped in Mumbai, succumbing to the allurement trap laid by BJP, to come back and withdraw your resignation letters," PTI quoted the former Chief Minister as saying. "Respect the people's verdict, or they will teach you a lesson."
The coalition government in Karnataka is teetering on the brink of collapse, with 16 Congress and JDS legislators tendering their resignations. However, Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar has rejected the BJP's appeal for an early floor test, stating that he will not rush the matter. "I have not accepted any of the resignations, and I can't do it overnight. I have given them time on the 17th. I'll go through the procedure and take a decision," he insisted.
(With inputs from PTI)