Bengaluru: THE BJP, short of just nine seats needed to cross the halfway mark, and emerging as the single largest party, bagging 104 seats in 2018 Assembly elections, led the BJP’s state chief B.S. Yeddyurappa to stake claim to form the government.

But the last thing he bargained for was the Congress staking claim alongside the JD(S) even before the final tally was announced by the Election Commission. It has clearly shocked Mr Yeddyurappa as well as the BJP party chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi who confidently addressed a pre-planned ‘victory’ rally at the BJP headquarters in the belief that their Mission 130 would come through, leaving them unable to call it off after the Congress-JD(S) launched their pre-emptive strike.

The move to stake claim before the final numbers were announced was apparently prompted by three telephone calls from three serving chief ministers to Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi who warned of the perils of waiting too long as the Congress had in Goa.

The chief ministers of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee, Telangana, K.C.Rao and Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu advised her to move before the BJP closed the deal with the Governor.

To checkmate a JD(S) headed Congress alliance government, BJP state President and party Chief Minister candidate B.S.Yeddyurappa had swiftly staked claim before the Governor Vajubhai Vala to form new government, claiming it had the support of two independent MLAs, and sought one week’s time to prove its majority on the floor of the House.

After meeting the Governor, BJP senior leaders held a meeting to discuss future strategy to form the government by seeking the support of at least five Lingayats from the Congress and two Independent MLAs. Union Minister Ananth Kumar, D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Party Karnataka in charge Murlidhar Rao and Shobha Karandlaje held a brief meeting at party office to discuss party strategy to counter Congress and JD(S).

Party central leaders were also in touch with state leaders, with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh expected to arrived in the city to see that the party strategy will end with government formation, sources added. It’s ‘operation lotus’, to attain power, the similar kind of strategy party conducted in 2008 Assembly elections when party scored 110 seats, the source said. But for any strategy or plan, party state leadership has to obtain permission from the Central leadership. Till late Tuesday, party central leaders have not spelled out their plan of action to attain power in Karnataka, with sources saying that left to Mr Yeddyurappa he would have stitched up the required numbers by now.

Speaking to media after party final tally restricted to 104, Mr. Yeddyurappa came down heavily on Congress for its attempt to form government with help of JD(S). “People have outright rejected the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah by defeating him with a big margin in Chamundeshwari constituency. But the Congress is making an attempt to retain power through the backdoor even though the mandate is against the ruling party”, Mr. Yeddyurappa said. “We emerged as single largest party, and it was anti incumbency factor against the Congress government that helped the JD(S) to get considerable seats in old Mysuru region. This is wrong”, Mr. Yeddyurappa said, while thanking party national President Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for campaigning in the state.

Reports by Bhaskar Hegde, Bala Chauhan, Shyam Sundar Vattam, B. Aravinda Shetty, Vinay Madhav, N.B. Hombal

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