Karnataka Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah on Monday stepped down as the leader of the Congress Legislature Party, taking responsibility for the party’s massive defeat in the bye-elections held for 15 Assembly seats. State Congress President Dinesh Gundu Rao also resigned from his position, reported ANI.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party won 12 seats – six more than what it needed to retain majority in the Assembly. The Congress won only two seats.

“I respect the mandate given by the electorate in the Karnataka bye-polls,” said Siddaramaiah, a former chief minister. “I expected give people to BJP leaders a great lesson for orchestrating Operation Kamala.”

Seventeen legislators from the ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition broke away from the two parties in July, which triggered its fall. Operation Kamala, 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 state Assembly elections.

Siddaramaiah thanked Congress President Sonia Gandhi for entrusting him with responsibilities. “I will continue my efforts as a loyal Congressman to strengthen the party,” he added.

Earlier in the day, senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar said the party had to accept the mandate of voters. “People have accepted the defectors. We have accepted defeat, I don’t think we have to be disheartened,” he told ANI.

The BJP fielded 13 of the disqualified MLAs from the seats they had won in 2018. These former legislators had joined the BJP on November 14, a day after the Supreme Court allowed them to contest the bye-elections. R Roshan Baig, who was earlier in the Congress, was the only one who did not move to the ruling party.