This came hours after the Supreme Court upheld former Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar’s decision to disqualify the MLAs but allowed them to contest next month’s bye-elections. Fourteen of the legislators were from the Congress while three were from the Janata Dal (Secular).
“They [disqualified MLAs] have expressed interest to join BJP and have met our senior leaders,” Ashwathnarayan told reporters in Delhi. “They have been welcomed to join the party.” They are likely to join the saffron party at an event in Bengaluru at 10.30 am. Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and state BJP President Nalin Kumar Kateel will reportedly attend the event.
Some of the disqualified legislators reportedly met BJP National General Secretary BL Santosh in New Delhi, hours after the verdict. They were accompanied by the Karnataka deputy chief minister. “There is no trouble or anything, they want to join the party and will be joining...,” said Ashwathnarayan. “Bye-polls and other things will come later.”
After the top court declared its verdict, the Congress lashed out at the BJP and sought the dismissal of the Yediyurappa government, claiming that the ruling had exposed “the moral bankruptcy of BJP leaders and the disqualified MLAs”.
“Operation Kamal is now a proved act and there is nothing more shameful than this,” said state Congress leader Siddaramaiah. Operation Kamal, or Lotus, is the term used to refer to the BJP’s alleged plan to orchestrate the defections of seven Opposition legislators after the 2008 Karnataka Assembly elections. The BJP had fallen three seats short of simple majority, and ended up forming the government with the help of five independent legislators.
Siddaramaiah’s party colleague Randeep Singh Surjewala said the court’s judgement had proved that the Congress-JD(S) alliance government had been brought down by the BJP “brazenly and illegally”. He said the Yediyurappa government was an illegitimate one.