Taking on Reddys to correct YSR 'sins'

Congress high command sends message to Jaganmohan

 The fact that this combination undermines democracy by hijacking the people’s role is apparent by the goings-on in Karnataka where the people have become mere spectators as the moneybags and politicians fight it out for an upper hand.
Last week, as the tussle between the Reddy brothers and Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa turned into a political war for survival, the Andhra Pradesh government served show-cause notice on the Reddy-owned Obalapuram Mining Company (OMC) asking why the government should not proceed against it for illegally excavating iron ore in Anantapur district worth Rs 2,500 crore in the past two years. The Reddy brothers’ flagship, OMC, was granted lease in 2007 for mining in 25.98 ha of forest land in the Bellary reserve forest at Kalyandurg in Anantapur district for iron ore extraction.

The Andhra Pradesh Forest Department issued the permission on the condition that the status of the forest land remained unchanged.
The next year the rivals of OMC complained to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests that the firm was excavating in violation of the Forest Conservation Act and that it was mining by encroaching upon the areas that were leased to them. The Supreme Court, too, was approached which asked the Centre to get a survey done. As a source in Anantapur told Deccan Herald: “Everybody knows that more than half of the mining activity is illegal.”

The Andhra Pradesh government headed by Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, a known friend of the OMC, resisted the survey saying there was no need for it.
Now the Andhra Pradesh government has revived the issue and has served show cause notice on the OMC. It seems that with the exit of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy from the scene, the way is clear for the government to act to uphold the law of the land.
Besides, putting the squeeze on OMC will also send a message to Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, an aspirant to the chief minister’s post and reportedly a business partner of the Reddy brothers, that he should not spread his wings too much.
However, the Rosaiah-headed government is neither inclined nor empowered to take on Jagan. Thus, it is clear that the instructions to proceed against the OMC have come from the party high command in Delhi. Perhaps, the anti-YSR group feels this is the right time to gain an upper hand.
Shifting loyalties
However, according to highly placed sources here, the pressure to act against the OMC has come not from Andhra Pradesh but from Karnataka. Thanks to the Reddy brothers’ financial clout, the “Congress party is on the road in Karnataka.” They not only grabbed in 2004 the Bellary Lok Sabha seat from the Congress that it held for 52 years but “convinced” the Congress and JD (S) MLAs in May 2008 to shift their loyalties to the BJP.

Thus, the BJP formed the government on its own. Subsequently, these MLAs won on BJP ticket in the by-elections. “YSR, a mountain of support for the Gali brothers (as the Reddy brothers are called in Andhra Pradesh, using their surname) can be credited with the decimation of the Congress in Karnataka,” a senior Congress leader told Deccan Herald on condition of anonymity.
The “sins” of YSR in Karnataka were overlooked because he delivered a larger state and more MPs in Andhra Pradesh. He was a crucial factor in the return of the United Progressive Alliance to power in 2009 and the party high command acknowledged it by letting YSR have a free run.

It was well aware that YSR had acquired the reputation of being one of the most corrupt CMs but he had shown since 1999 that he had an uncanny knack of picking “winnable” candidates.
He may have eased in moneybags and eased out or clipped the wings of many a loyal party leader but delivered in more ways than one. The absolute majority of 2004 and braving the anti-incumbency tendency in 2009 further made his position in the party unassailable.

The party high command swears by the numbers game because it needs to be in power, or its very survival would be at stake. These considerations made the party high command tolerate and even overlook the shortcuts adopted by YSR in the past.
These very considerations have now prompted it to crack the whip at the Reddy brothers’ iron ore empire in Andhra Pradesh. It hopes to choke if not cut off the flow of funds not merely to the Karnataka BJP unit but also in at least six other states that run on funds supplied by the Reddy brothers.

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