Karnataka: BJP snatches a popular Congress MLA

In a poll-eve shock to Congress, one of its key MLAs from Gulbarga, Dr. Umesh Jadhav formally handed over his resignation letter to state assembly speaker KP Ramesh Kumar.

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Mallikarjun Kharge and Dr. Umesh Jadhav

Ahead of the General Elections to Lok Sabha, due in two months’ time, ruling BJP at the Centre has dealt a blow to the Congress by luring away one of its key MLAs from Gulbarga, Dr. Umesh Jadhav. There are chances that the BJP may field him against the leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge who could have a stiff battle on his hands.

Dr. Jadhav was one of the MLAs playing truant and was seen as one who could bring other lawmakers into the BJP fold as part of Operation Kamala 2. This operation was hoped to bring about the collapse of the Congress-JD (S) government ahead of the General Elections that would have given an advantage to the BJP.

However, the BJP plan could not fructify as the Congress and even the JD (S) MLAs held firm and stood solidly behind the coalition government headed by HD Kumaraswamy. Now, it does appear that #OperationLotus 2.0 has been put on the backburner. Dr. Jadhav had burnt his boats long ago and was among the sure shot ones to leave the Congress, “anytime soon.”

Also read: Relief for Kumaraswamy as BJP plot to topple Karnataka govt fizzles out

On Monday, Dr. Jadhav formally handed over his resignation letter to state assembly speaker KP Ramesh Kumar.

“The Congress said his resignation was along the expected lines and that it made no material difference either to the longevity of the coalition government in Karnataka or the poll prospects of the two coalition partners in the state.”

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President, Dinesh Gundu Rao said in a tweet, “Dr. Umesh Jadhav’s resignation was a foregone conclusion because he had already sold himself to BJP. He is leaving the Congress party for his selfish motives. He can be called a betrayer.”

Dr. Jadhav, who was practicing as a medical doctor in a government hospital at Kalburgi, was elected on the Congress ticket from Chincholi in Gulbarga and is a very popular leader there.

The BJP seems to have hit two birds with one stone, by netting Dr. Jadhav.

Firstly, it has found a popular and powerful candidate to pit against Congress veteran Kharge, who has accumulated some enemies along the way on his political journey. The BJP could pin down the senior Congress leader by fielding Dr. Jadhav from Gulbarga, now represented by Kharge.

Also read: Voters extend full support to coalition govt in Karnataka: CM Kumaraswamy

In the eventuality this does not happen, Dr. Jadhav, a two-time MLA could contest on a BJP ticket from Chincholi constituency itself. He is expected to romp home on his own strength along with BJP cadre support. In all likelihood, Dr. Jadhav could be joining the BJP in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Gulbarga on Thursday when he is slated to address a rally there.

Dr. Jadhav’s resignation, for the present, does not pose an immediate threat to the Kumaraswamy government as it does not in any way alter the numbers game.

“For the government to go, the BJP will need to get some 15 MLAs to resign, to bring down the magic number to manageable limits. For the present, the magic number is 116, which the Congress-JD (S) has.”

The BJP has 104 members in the 224-member house. The strength of the house has come down to 223 with the resignation of Dr. Jadhav. His main grouse is that he was not made a minister in the Karnataka government.