Weeks before the crucial state elections in Karnataka, BJP chief Amit Shah cancelled his scheduled campaign rally in Bellary district to avoid sharing the dais with tainted mining barons Reddy brothers who have been given tickets by the party, said a report by News 18.
Shah, who is seeing Karnataka as the BJP's gateway to South, has been campaigning vigorously to remove the ruling Congress party from the state. The BJP's political strategy, however, faced severe opposition after it gave tickets to the Reddy brothers embroiled in Rs 50,000 crore illegal mining scandal.
Two of the three infamous Reddy brothers have now been given tickets from Harapanahalli and Ballari constituencies.
“BJP selected G. Karunakara Reddy and G. Somashekar Reddy, elder and younger brothers of the mining scam-tainted G. Janardhan Reddy, to contest from Harpanahalli and Ballari seats in the Ballari district. The party has also fielded Lallesh Reddy, nephew of the Reddy brothers,” reported NewsMinute.
Assets of Janardhana Reddy were confiscated and he was jailed for three and half years before getting bail. His daughter's Rs 500 crore extravagant wedding, days after demonetisation was announced on November 2016, became the talk of the town, amid a massive currency crunch that other far less fortunate than him faced for months on end.
At the height of their influence, the Reddy troika -- two of whom were ministers and the third Somashekara Reddy the chairman of the Karnataka Milk Federation --were often accused of running the BJP government, before their clout waned.
So complete was the sway of their mining cartel's stranglehold on the region's politics that it had prompted the then Lokayukta Santosh Hegde to refer to the then Bellary (now Ballari) district as "the Republic of Bellary".
Though the most resourceful of them--G Janardhana Reddy-- has been barred from entering Ballari, in accordance with his bail conditions in the illegal mining case, he is camping near Molakalmuru in Chitradurga district overseeing the campaign of his siblings as also the BJP, which is making a determined effort to form its government in the key southern state for a second time.
With the BJP on the defensive, party state chief Yeddyurappa said, “Reddy brothers, except Janardhana Reddy, are with us. Janardhana has not asked for any ticket for Assembly elections and we are not going to give a ticket. He is going to help in Bellary and few other districts where we can get 15-20 seats easily because of Janardhana... People are happy that he is supporting us.”
BJP's chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa Thursday told the Times Of India that he has pardoned Janardhana Reddy in the 'interest of the state'. CM Siddaramaiah slammed the BJP over the pardon.
Very interesting! @BSYBJP has pardoned Reddy in interest of state
1 Which interest of Karnataka is served by pardoning someone who looted thousands of crores of Kannadigas’ wealth?
2 Is it upto you to pardon him?
3 Did you ask PM Modi to direct CBI to formalise the ‘pardon’? pic.twitter.com/50D759dNRr— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) April 27, 2018
Lashing out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for granting tickets to the Reddy brothers, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had renamed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to the Central Bureau of Illegal Mining.
Addressing a public rally here on Thursday, Rahul hinted at hypocrisy in Prime Minister Modi's stance on eradicating corruption.
"On one hand, Modiji says he is against corruption, and on the other hand, he has a jailed minister (B.S. Yeddyurappa) standing beside him. Take the case of the Reddy brothers. Eight tickets have been given to them to contest elections in Karnataka, along with a clean chit from the Prime Minister. Many absconders including Nirav Modi have looted public money and fled the country, but Modiji has not said a word about any this," he said.
(Inputs from agencies)