Payback time

Payback time

Even if inordinately delayed, the law is finally catching up with the notorious ‘Reddy brothers,’ who, over the last eight years, have muddied Karnataka’s politics and administration beyond recognition.

The formal arrest of Gali Janardhana Reddy by the CBI – the kingpin of rampant illegal iron ore mining in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh — is an indication that the authorities are finally ready to crack down on a mafia that was spreading its tentacles from illegal mining to corrupting the entire administrative machinery and blackmailing a major political party to serve its interests. The mountain of information and evidence gathered by the CBI should enable the agency to nab all the key players in what must rank as one of India’s biggest rackets, and arraign them before the courts of law.

It is amazing that the mining barons, who also managed to become ministers in the B S Yeddyurappa government, almost had a free run for three years, bending every rule to amass wealth and use that money to dictate terms to the ruling party. Having taken their help to attain majority, Yeddyurappa, who himself was immersed in corruption charges, became a puppet in their hands.

The former chief minister turned a blind eye to the ‘rape of Bellary’ and continued to defend them. It was only the monumental work of former Lokayukta Santosh Hegde and his officers that forced the BJP to dump Yeddyurappa and the mining barons. That the Reddy brothers, having tasted power, are not going to fade away quietly is evident from the fact that they are relentlessly pressuring the successor Sadananda Gowda government for ministerial berths.

The central leadership of the BJP, instead of making mandatory noises about ‘misuse’ of the CBI by the Congress, should celebrate the cornering of the Reddy brothers who had become a menace to the party. If Sadananda Gowda wants to emerge as a leader in his own right, he should permit the CBI to investigate into illegal mining on this side of the border with Andhra Pradesh as well and show that he is ready to act in public interest.

The Reddy brothers, if found guilty, should not only be punished, but every effort should be made to recover the loot from them, four times, as the former Lokayukta has recommended. The CBI on its part, should widen the inquiry to include even the former chief ministers who had opened the floodgates of illegal mining in the state.