3 Jharkhand Congress MLAs, caught with cash in vehicle, arrested
Three Jharkhand Congress MLAs were arrested a day after they were found in West Bengal with cash in their vehicle. Congress has suspended all three of them after linking the cash to the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) "Operation Lotus," claiming that the MLAs were paid to bring down the state government. The BJP, however, stated that money is evidence of corruption in Jharkhand government.
Why does this story matter?
The term "Operation Lotus" was coined in 2008 when the BJP was accused of inciting several opposition lawmakers to defect and join its ranks in order to ensure the stability of its Karnataka government under BS Yediyurappa. Since 2014, the term has gained currency after the BJP was successfully able to topple several opposition governments in states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, etc.
Money recovered to be counted using machines: Official
There has been no reaction from the three MLAs—Irfan Ansari of Jamtara, Rajesh Kachhap of Khijri, and Naman Bixal Kongari of Kolebira—being interrogated about the money's source by the Howrah Rural police. Officials stated that note-counting devices will be required to determine the amount. Notably, the Maharashtra government was recently replaced after a Shiv Sena dissident group, backed by the BJP, deposed Uddhav Thackeray.
Congress statement over the development
"It's in the BJP's nature to try and destabilize any government that's not theirs. The same has been done against CM Hemant Soren's government," Jharkhand's Congress chief Bandhu Tirkey reportedly stated. "The only reason the MLAs were given money is to make the government fall," he added. "The BJP's 'Operation Lotus' in Jharkhand stands exposed...in Howrah," tweeted Congress's national communications chief Jairam Ramesh.
Here's the video of the incident
Game plan is what they did in Maharashtra: Ramesh
The JMM (30) and Congress (17) have 47 members in the 82-member Jharkhand Assembly, slightly above the majority level, with assistance from others, whereas BJP is the main opposition party with 25 MLAs. "The game plan of 'Hum Do' in Delhi is to do in Jharkhand what they did in Maharashtra (where Congress and NCP were partners) by installing E-D duo (sic)," Ramesh emphasized.
Corruption is on the rise in Jharkhand: BJP
However, Aditya Sahu, General Secretary of the Jharkhand BJP, stated that the money recovered is evidence of JMM-Congress corruption. "Ever since they came to power, corruption is on the rise. They use public money for other purposes," he stated. Dilip Ghosh, a top West Bengal BJP politician, connected the Howrah incident to corruption in Jharkhand. "Corrupt parties...are trying to escape...by opposing...investigating agencies," he stated.
There are murmurs of possible toppling of Jharkhand government: TMC
Even before Jharkhand's parties responded, West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress tweeted about "murmurs of horse-trading and the possible toppling of the Jharkhand government." Notably, West Bengal CM and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee recently accused the BJP of attempting to force a change of government in Jharkhand following the recent shift in Maharashtra. The BJP has given no explicit response to the allegation yet.