Focus back on Reddys as K'taka crisis rages on
Karnataka Governor says ministers cannot indulge in corrupt practice as Opposition MLAs continue to squat in Assembly.
Bangalore: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa on Tuesday ruled out an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged incidents of illegal mining by Reddy brothers even as Governor HR Bhardwaj said that corrupt ministers must not be allowed to continue in office. Bhardwaj met President Pratibha Patil in New Delhi on Tuesday morning to apprise him of the situation in the state.
"I have seriously taken a note of things (allegations against Reddy brothers). I have explained my concern to the Chief Minister and the Centre. This issue needs to be ironed out whether ministers can indulge in corrupt practice - whether they can continue as ministers and yet do illegal things. I will send a report to the Centre," said Bhardwaj.
Earlier, Yeddyurappa blamed the Opposition for politicising the issue of illegal mining while rejecting the demand for a CBI investigation.
"We have decided to give more powers of Lokayukta. We are allowing only value added mining in the state. We have already decided to meet the Prime Minister and President to stop the exporting to the other countries. The Opposition is politicising the issue. I am ready to discuss the issues with the Opposition but they are not ready. We are not ready for CBI enquiry. We are going to refer all the cases to Lokayukta," said Yeddyurappa while reacting to the demand by Opposition MLAs for CBI investigation into incidents of illegal mining.
The state has been witnessing high drama over the illegal mining issue for the past few days which continued on Tuesday too with all the Opposition MLCs in the state Council wearing black mufflers in protest.
At least 80 Opposition MLAs belonging to the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) spent Monday night inside the Assembly refusing to leave till a CBI inquiry was ordered.
"We are going to continue pressing the government. If the government is not convinced we will be forced to take the case to the people. About 60 of us are in lower house and 20 in upper house. Government has been adamant. We have made it clear to the government that illegal routing of the mines should be stopped," Congress MLA Krishna Byregowda said
"We have been agitating in the house for some days and demanding a CBI enquiry on illegal mining. We stayed inside the house. We had dinner inside the Assembly and slept inside the Assembly. We also want a halt on illegal mining," added Byregowda.
During Friday's Assembly session, MLAs came dangerously close to blows as the Bharatiya Janata Party government took on the Opposition over the controversial resignation of Lokayukta Santosh N Hegde.
The face-off continued on Monday as well, as Opposition MLAs came to the Assembly wearing orange coloured mining helmets saying they had been threatened by the BJP's legislators including the Reddy brothers. They are demanding the Reddy brothers and their supporters to be suspended for the rest of the session.
Congress and JD(S) have repeatedly targeted Karnataka ministers and brothers G Janardhana Reddy and G Karunakara Reddy, who are also mining barons hailing from Bellary. Once struggling entrepreneurs in Bellary district, the Reddy brothers have a lot to thank Congress president Sonia Gandhi and China's hunger for steel for the meteoric rise in their political and financial clout in just over 10 years.
The brothers - Janardhana is tourism minister, elder Karunakara holds the revenue portfolio and the third sibling Somashekara is a legislator. Their finances started soaring in 2002 when Janardhana Reddy turned to iron ore mining, not in Bellary but in Obulapuram in adjoining Andhra Pradesh.
With China devouring steel as it built stadiums, infrastructure and other facilities for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the global economy in a boom phase, iron ore prices skyrocketed. So did the riches of the Reddy brothers. They switched over from cycle/scooter to luxury cars and choppers.