Reddy brothers back in news, for wrong reasons again

Reddy brothers back in news, for wrong reasons again

"Cabinet making is my prerogative. None recommended them (the Reddy brothers)," he told reporters at Hubli, about 360 km from here, late Friday after senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj was reported as having said she had no hand in the their becoming ministers.

The Reddy brothers always refer to Sushma Swaraj as their 'thayi' (mother) and only she could persuade them to give up their demand for Yeddyurappa's head when they had rebelled against him in October 2009.

Of the three brothers, two are ministers - G. Janardhana, the most vocal of them, holds tourism portfolio, and elder G. Karunakara the revenue department.

The third of the Reddy brothers, G. Somashekara, is a member of the assembly from Bellary, the iron ore-rich district and their political stronghold. He also heads the Karnataka Milk Federation, the largest cooperative of milk producers in the state that sells milk and milk products under the brand name 'Nandini'.

Their close associate B. Sriramulu is the health minister.The Reddy brothers, also called Bellary brothers, have not reacted to the brewing controversy.

"There cannot be a bigger lie. Let me tell you the truth, I have no hand in the political making of the Bellary brothers. I had nothing to do in making them ministers or building up their stature as political leaders," Swaraj was quoted as having said in an interview to weekly news magazine Outlook.

The Reddy brothers were struggling entrepreneurs till early 2000. They joined the BJP just ahead of the 1999 Lok Sabha polls and came into contact with Sushma Swaraj, who contested from Bellary against Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Gandhi, contesting the polls for the first time, chose Bellary also, apart from family stronghold Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, as the Karnataka seat was a Congress bastion.
Gandhi won but opted to keep Amethi seat creating an opening for the Reddy brothers and the BJP to cash in on and turn Bellary into a party stronghold.

The Reddys entered mining business in 2002 coinciding with the huge demand for iron ore, mainly from China, to construct facilities for the Olympic Games.

The Reddys' fortunes also sky-rocketed, like the price for iron ore. Now they own choppers and latest cars.

Sons of a police constable in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the Reddys rarely miss an opportunity to tell Bellary people that "it is because of your blessing that today we own helicopters and latest cars. We don't forget that a few years back we rode cycles".
The Reddys are accused of large-scale illegal mining in and around Bellary. They do not own any mines in Bellary. Their Obulapuram Mining Company has mines in Andhra Pradesh, bordering Bellary.

The brothers have allegedly erased boundary marks between the two states to carry on their illegal mining. The brothers strongly deny the charge.The money power they enjoy is said to be the reason for their clout in the BJP.

Every year since 1999 Sushma Swaraj visits Bellary to attend the 'Vara Mahalakshmi Puja', a festival in Karnataka to worship the Hindu goddess of wealth.