New Delhi: With a fractured mandate in Karnataka and both the BJP and the JD(S)-Congress together staking claim to form the government in the state, the fear of horse trading is back.
JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, who met Karnataka governor on Tuesday evening 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 Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who accompanied Kumaraswamy was more direct and said, "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. BJP, which is still short of eight lawmakers to form the government in Karnataka, has already sent some of its top ministers to Bengaluru.
The only way the BJP can increase 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," NDTV quoted BJP leader Nalin Kohli as saying.
There have been instances before when parties have kept their MLAs at resorts to pre-empt attempts of horse trading by their political rivals.
During Rajya Sabha elections in 2017, the Congress sent its 44 MLAs from Gujarat to a resort near Bengaluru to prevent what it called "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 tweet by Kerala tourism invited Karnataka MLAs 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 read.