After long time, Reddys plan to wriggle their way back into BJP

But party wary of Janardhana as mining taint could affect its image
Last Updated 18 January 2018, 19:46 IST

Just when illegal mining has reared its ugly head once again, a quiet political resurrection is in the works for the Ballari Reddy brothers - G Karunakara Reddy, G Somashekara Reddy and G Janardhana Reddy.

Ahead of the Assembly elections, the brothers are preparing the  ground to make a comeback in the political mainstream after keeping a low profile ever since the multi-crore illegal scam rocked Karnataka about seven years ago.

The possible return of the Reddy brothers comes at a time when the ruling Congress, which rode to power by taking on the illegal mining issue, finds itself facing allegations of irregularities in the Mysore Minerals Limited. Also, faced with criticism that it is not seriously pursuing illegal mining cases, the government has decided to hand over four cases of illegal iron ore export to a special investigation team.

Karunakara Reddy, the eldest who has stayed away from the other brothers after the illegal mining scam broke out, is hopeful that the BJP will give him a ticket to contest from the Harapanahalli constituency in Davangere, where he won in 2008 and lost in 2013. He was also a Lok Sabha member representing Bellary. "I will contest from Harapanahalli if I'm given a ticket," he said.

According to Somashekara Reddy, BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa has already promised him a ticket from the Bellary city constituency, where he won in 2008. "We're confident of a victory," he said.

It is the political future of Janardhana Reddy that is stirring up curiosity. A former minister, Janardhana Reddy is out on bail in the Rs 16,085-crore illegal mining case investigated by the CBI. His bail condition states that he cannot visit Ballari in the state, Anantapur and Cuddapah in Andhra Pradesh.

"If the party gives me a chance to contest polls, I will ensure the BJP comes back to power and the Congress is decimated," he announced last week at an event in Anekal, Bengaluru Urban district. If he wins the election, it will be his debut as an MLA as he was previously a member of the Legislative Council.

The BJP had expelled Janardhana Reddy from the party after the mining scam broke out.

His trusted lieutenant, BJP MP B Sriramulu, has also publicly appealed to the party's leadership to bring Janardhana Reddy back. The BJP can win all nine Assembly seats in Ballari district if Janardhana Reddy just joins the party, without even having to campaign, Sriramulu said recently. Ballari was a BJP bastion, which the Congress wrested on the back of its anti-illegal mining campaign.

The BJP, however, has remained mum on Janardhana. "I agree that he will be immensely helpful to the party, if brought back," Somashekara conjectured.

It is also said that the BJP is wary of formally bringing Janardhana back as that could affect its image, given his alleged role in the mining scam.

(Published 18 January 2018, 18:50 IST)

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