Bengaluru, May 16, 2018 : With Karnataka throwing up a fractured mandate and both the BJP and the JD(S)-Congress combine staking claim to form the government, the fear of horse trading is back.
JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, who met Karnataka governor after the Congress pledged unconditional support to a government under his leadership, seems aware of such a possibility.
"We are taking care to make sure our MLAs (lawmakers) are not poached," he told reporters after staking claim.
Outgoing Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who accompanied Mr Kumaraswamy was more direct. "BJP may try to poach MLAs (lawmakers)".
BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa who met the governor has said he should be given the first chance on the grounds of the BJP being the single largest party. The party, which is still short of at least seven lawmakers needed to form the government, has already sent some of its top ministers to Bengaluru.
The only way the BJP can shore up its numbers is if some lawmakers from the Congress or JD(S) switch sides. The latter two are aware of the need to closely guard their lawmakers.
"The mandate is not for the Congress or the JD(S). There is an assumption that everything is hunky dory but there are news reports that things are not hunky dory. Either way, the strategic part of what is going to happen will never be out," BJP leader Nalin Kohli told NDTV.
There have been earlier instances when parties have kept their lawmakers at resorts to pre-empt attempts of horse trading by their political rivals.
During last year’s Rajya Sabha elections, the Congress sent its 44 lawmakers from Gujarat to a resort near Bengaluru to prevent what it "poaching" attempts by the BJP.
After a late evening meeting of Congress and JD(S) leaders at a five-star hotel in Bengaluru, outgoing Chief Minister Siddaramaiah gave no definite answer when asked about "resort politics".
Meanwhile, a cheesy tweet by Kerala tourism invited Karnataka lawmakers to unwind at resorts in the neighbouring state. "After the rough and tumble of the #KarnatakaVerdict, we invite all the MLAs to unwind at the safe & beautiful resorts of God’s Own Country," the tweet said.