The Congress on Wednesday sought the dismissal of the BS Yediyurappa-led Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka after the Supreme Court upheld former Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar’s decision to disqualify 17 legislators belonging to the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) in July. The court, however, allowed them to contest next month’s bye-elections, reversing the Speaker’s decision to ban them till the end of the current Assembly.

Though the former MLAs had submitted their resignations, Kumar rejected their letters. The Congress-JD(S) government collapsed after the rebels did not return to their parties before a crucial trust vote, bringing the BJP to power.

State Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah welcomed the top court’s judgement, saying it proves that the MLAs had defected with ulterior motives. “The defection is not voluntary and not genuine,” he added. “Once an MLA is elected in a democratic setup, they can’t switch parties as they wish.”

The verdict “exposes the moral bankruptcy of BJP leaders and the disqualified MLAs”, he added. “Operation Kamal is now a proved act and there is nothing more shameful than this.”

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.

“Supreme Court’s decision upholding the disqualification of ‘defector MLAs’ has burst the bubble of BJP’s ‘Operation Kamal’,” tweeted Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, echoing Siddaramaiah. “It is now proved that BJP brazenly and illegally brought down an elected JD(S)-Congress government in Karnataka. Yediyurappa government is an illegitimate government and should be dismissed.”

Surjewala also called for an inquiry into the “sinister conspiracy of the BJP to bring down an elected government by misusing ‘money power’”. The Congress leader said the ball was in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s court and wondered if he will “show the courage of conviction to dismiss Yediyurappa government”.

Senior national Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi also said the Yediyurappa government had no moral right to continue in office, PTI reported. “There is clearly an attempt by the BJP to destroy democratic values through shameless display of money power,” he told reporters in New Delhi. “The Supreme Court decision vindicates the stand of the Speaker almost 95%. It shows that ‘Operation Kamal’ is happening everyday and everywhere in the country.”

Singhvi also called for the dismissal of the Yediyurappa government, and said the BJP’s “character” stood exposed. “Those who preach to us about corruption, moral and Gandhian values, they have to realise that they have to walk the talk,” he added.

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