On another occasion, this would have been the perfect podium for the BJP top brass to come together and share a feast, but the wedding ceremony for controversial mining baron and party leader Gali Janardana Reddy’s daughter has plunged the BJP into chaos.
To attend or not to attend, that is the question vexing many in the ruling dispensation. The BJP brass, many who share a cordial relationship with the baron who was only recently released from jail, are not sure about being seen at Reddy’s Rs 100-crore wedding extravaganza when people across the country are queuing up at bank branches for spare cash post the demonetisation drive.
Karnataka BJP president and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa trashed speculation that the party high command had asked its leaders to skip the function.
“It’s not true that the party high command has instructed us not to attend the wedding,” he told News18, adding, “I have been invited and I will attend.”
At the Reddy pocket borough of Bellary, district BJP president S Gurulinganagouda said that Reddy had always been a BJP leader and there was nothing wrong in top party leaders attending his daughter’s wedding.
According to a close aide of Yeddyurappa, a rattled Reddy called him up Monday night after local media reported that the BJP high command had asked party leaders not to attend the wedding.
However, the party state leadership is itself divided on the issue.
“We are trying our best to defend PM Modi’s demonetisation and war on black money. Attending this wedding will surely cause a huge embarrassment to our party. But many are attending because of political compulsions,” a top leader told News18 requesting anonymity.
According to sources close to the Reddy family, invitation cards – valued at Rs 10,000 each – have gone out to all major BJP leaders across India including Union ministers from the state Ananthkumar and DV Sadananda. The aides of these ministers said that they might attend the wedding.
The Reddy clan was close to top BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and M Venkaiah Naidu till the CBI arrested them in 2011 in connection with mining scam. After that Sushma Swaraj had distanced herself from the family.
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda who have also been invited could skip the function, according to their aides.
Karnataka Health and Family Welfare minister KR Ramesh Kumar has already said that no leader with self-respect should attend it.
“PM Modi is talking big about eradication of black money. Black money is being used for the wedding of the daughter of his party leader in Karnataka. It exposes their hypocrisy. I am not attending and request others not to go,” he told News18.
The function will take place at the 660-acre Bangalore Palace grounds on Wednesday. The main palace known as Windsor Palace built in the 19th century is the main wedding venue. To prevent media photographers from clicking the pictures of mega wedding, Reddy has deployed over 3,000 security guards and bouncers at the venue. Over 50,000 guests are expected to attend the wedding.
CNN News18’s Bengaluru reporter Nagarjun Dwarakanath’s mobile phone was snatched by the bouncers when he tried to click photographs of the venue.
Janardhana Reddy has been out on bail since January 2015 after spending almost four years in jail. He is still facing over two dozen criminal cases.