Bengaluru: Putting behind his own defeat as well as the drubbing of alliance partners in Lok Sabha polls, JD (S) patriarch H D Deve Gowda has set out to save the year-old government by countering the BJP efforts to trap legislators with profitable offers and reduce the coalition to a minority, with its own lure - cabinet berths to all the rebels.
Sources close to Mr Gowda told this newspaper the octogenarian has been working the phones to communicate his strategy to top leaders of Congress in New Delhi and ensure that they get state unit leaders to act accordingly, and also win over two independents—Mr Shankar and Mr Nagesh—with berths in the cabinet or as chairpersons of state-owned boards and corporations.
Each of the coalition partners would take up the responsibility of rewarding these independent legislators and thus prevent them from announcing their allegiance to the BJP. Besides, any discussions on expansion or reshuffle would be held between Mr Gowda and top Congress leaders Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mr K C Venugopal - once they arrive in the IT capital - in a calculated move to also clip the wings of CLP leader Siddaramaiah, sources added.
Sources said armed with details of Operation Kamala shared by his party legislator, Shivalinge Gowda, who received the offer to jump ship through a 'matha' seer, and former minister B Satyanarayana, also of Dal (S), Mr Gowda has drawn up his counter strategy. Senior leaders of both parties are reaching out to MLAS who have been sounded out by the BJP.
With BJP leaders luring legislators with offers of plum posts after mid-term polls in November or December 2019, Mr Gowda has focused his efforts on convincing such MLAs about how it was vital that they keep their supporters in good humour as any move to resign from their seats would lead to midterm polls to the Assem bly only after six months.
Cong trouble shooters Azad, KCV flying in
Senior Congress leaders, Ghulam Nabi Azad and K. C. Venugopal, who put off their visit several times over last two days - and cancelled one flight after another on Tuesday - are likely to attend the crucial Congress Legislature Party meeting in a bid to save the coalition government from imploding here on Wednesday.
Voices of dissent are growing louder in the Congress and more aspirants have emerged for berths in the ministry. Mr Azad and Mr Venugopal will attempt to rebuild bridges with the JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda, placate disgruntled legislators, and persuade senior ministers on the need to make way for those likely to defect to the BJP in the aftermath of the debacle....