‘Operation Lotus’ in Punjab Too, Alleges AAP; BJP Says Ruling MLAs Unhappy with ‘Remote-controlled’ Govt

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In what has triggered a war of words between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the BJP in Punjab, the ruling outfit has accused the saffron party of trying to bring down the Bhagwant Mann government by trying to break away MLAs through `cash inducements and `threats.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Punjab’s finance minister Harpal Singh Cheema alleged that the BJP was using central agencies as well as money power to woo the AAP MLAs as part of its ‘Operation Lotus’, which in the past it has tried in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Delhi, and Rajasthan.

“Offers of up to Rs 25 crore have been made to our MLAs to break away from AAP. They have been told that ‘bade bau ji se milwayenge’. These MLAs have also been offered big posts. They were told that if you get more MLAs along, you would be given up to Rs 75 crore,” said Cheema.

The minister also alleged that BJP leaders have been telling AAP MLAs that they need only 35 legislators to topple the government. “This is because they are already in touch with Congress MLAs,” said Cheema. He accused the ruling party at the Centre of keeping Rs 1,375 crore in the state to woo the ruling party MLAs. Also, the CBI and ED are being used to try to wean away MLAs, he said.

Refusing to divulge the names of the legislators, Cheema said seven to ten MLAs were directly approached for the `deal. “The party’s legal cell is looking into it and right now we don’t want to disclose their identities,” he said.

The BJP has trashed the allegations, claiming that AAP is rattled as many of its legislators are unhappy with the functioning of the Mann government. “”This government has failed utterly. They have nothing to show as achievement other than hurling baseless allegations. Their MLAs are unhappy with the government since everything is controlled by Kejriwal from Delhi and hence want to divert the blame to other parties,” said BJP leader Raj Kumar Verka.

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