Karnataka Water Resources minister DK Shivakumar on Sunday alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party was indulging in horse-trading and had lured three of its MLAs to a Mumbai hotel, PTI reported. Shivakumar said the development was part of BJP’s “Operation Lotus”, aimed at ousting the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress government in the state.

“Three of our MLAs are in Mumbai in a hotel with some BJP MLAs and leaders,” the Congress leader claimed. “We are aware of what has transpired there and how much has been offered to them.”

Operation Lotus is a term used by the Congress to refer to the saffron party’s alleged attempts to lure Opposition legislators to join its camp and guarantee the stability of its erstwhile government under BS Yeddyurappa in Karnataka in 2008.

Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy accused the BJP of attempting to destabilise his government by trying to poach the MLAs, reported PTI. “I know who they are approaching, what they offered to MLAs,” he said. “I am collecting all the news and doing whatever [possible] from my side to see to that BJP does not disturb the government.”

He also said the three Congress MLAs were in touch with him and had gone to Mumbai only after informing him, ANI reported.

Former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa on Monday denied the allegations. “There is no truth to all these rumours, this is between the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular),” he said. “We are not in touch with any of their MLAs. We are only focused on keeping our MLAs energised.”

He alleged that the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) were trying to poach BJP MLAs, PTI reported. Yeddyurappa claimed that all 104 BJP MLAs are united, and will camp in New Delhi to protest against the alleged attempts of the ruling alliance to poach them.

“It is not us, but they who have started horse trading,” Yeddyurappa said. “We will stay in Delhi one or two days because Kumaraswamy is trying his level best to contact our MLAs.”

But Kumaraswamy denied the claims. “Congress and Janata Dal [Secular] have sufficient numbers,” he told reporters. “We don’t need to poach BJP MLAs.”

‘Kumaraswamy is being lenient’

Shivakumar claimed that Kumaraswamy was being lenient to the BJP about its alleged transgressions. “By lenient, I mean he is not exposing the facts he knows,” he said. “All the MLAs have conveyed to the chief minister about the ongoing conspiracies. They have also told [Congress leader and former Chief Minister] Siddaramaiah about it.”

Shivakumar said Kumaraswamy has taken a more cautious approach to the matter. “The chief minister is adopting a policy of wait and watch,” Shivakumar said. “If I was in his place, I would have exposed it within 24 hours.”

The minister said the BJP would not succeed in its attempts. Shivakumar claimed that Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao had informed the income tax department and the anti-corruption bureau about the matter. “We do not know what progress these two agencies have made so far, but sitting on the complaint by a political party is not good,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister G Parameswara and other Congress leaders including Siddaramaiah, Dinesh Gundu Rao and Shivakumar, met on Monday to discuss the matter, reported ANI. Several Congress MLAs claimed to have been approached by BJP leaders to switch camps.

The BJP has refuted the allegations. “They [Congress] should keep their house in order,” BJP leader DV Sadananda Gowda said. “They are not able to keep their MLAs in Karnataka together and just simply pin pointing at BJP.”

On Saturday, Kumaraswamy had refuted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments about him being dissatisfied with the Congress as a coalition partner. “I am amused to see Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi reacting to a statement which I never made,” Kumaraswamy said.

Modi at a public rally in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday had referred to a report that claimed that Kumaraswamy had said he was being treated like a clerk instead of a chief minister, PTI reported.

Meanwhile, BJP national president Amit Shah is scheduled to meet party MLAs from the state on Monday to discuss strategy and preparations for the Lok Sabha elections, reported The Hindu.