Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi education minister Saurabh Bharadwaj on Thursday alleged that “Operation Lotus” has commenced in Punjab, a day after his party’s lone Lok Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Rinku joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, PTI reported.

“Operation Lotus” refers to the alleged attempts by the BJP to orchestrate defections and poach legislators from Opposition parties by offering them bribes and other incentives.

On Wednesday, Rinku, who represents the Jalandhar constituency, joined the BJP along with the party’s Jalandhar West MLA Sheetal Angural.

Majority of Aam Aadmi Party MLAs in Punjab have received phone calls offering them money to join the Hindutva party, Bharadwaj alleged at a press conference.

“The BJP is conducting Operation Lotus,” he said, adding that the MLAs were also offered Y-category security cover and tickets to contest the Lok Sabha polls for defecting, PTI reported. A Y-category security detail comprises eight personnel including one or two commandos and members of the police.

The Aam Aadmi Party leader also questioned Rinku’s decision to join the Hindutva party. Rinku had been fielded by the Aam Aadmi Party from the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat for the general elections.

“The BJP stood fourth in Punjab after AAP, Shiromani Akali Dal and Congress,” Bharadwaj said.

Bharadwaj added: “The question is why did Rinku join the BJP. His tenure as Lok Sabha MP has also ended. The BJP will also come fourth in the Jalandhar Lok Sabha polls.”

Last year, Rinku had joined the Aam Aadmi Party to contest the bye-polls to the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat after quitting the Congress.

The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases from April 19 to June 1. Polling for all 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab will be held on June 1. Counting of votes will take place on June 4.