Unstoppable Reddy reduces helpless Yeddy to tears

Last Updated 12 July 2010, 07:18 IST

The opposition and media's constant jibe over the alleged involvement in the illegal mining of the Reddy brothers, mining barons and powerful ministers in his cabinet, has made BJP's first chief minister in Karnataka and south India B.S. Yeddyurappa fret and shed tears in public.

To Yeddyurappa's and BJP's chagrin, over 7.1 million tonnes of iron ore was illegally exported in 2009-10, a year after he assumed office and the highest in the last seven years, according to figures given by the chief minister to the assembly Friday, July 9.
This is in stark contrast to the over 3.3 million tonnes illegally exported in 2008-09, the first year of BJP rule.

In 2003-04, the figure was over 2 million tonnes, the next year 5.2 million tonnes, in 2005-06 it came down to 2.1 million tonnes, more than doubled to 4.7 million in 2006-07 and went up to over 5.7 million tonnes in 2007-08.

Yeddyurappa told the assembly some politicians, officials from the forest and police departments were involved in this racket. He did not name the politicians.

It may be sheer coincidence that illegal mining activity that has been on for several years almost became a daily topic of discussion in the media and among the public only in 2006 after the BJP formed a coalition government with a breakaway group of Janata Dal-Secular.

BJP and Yeddyurappa may be ruing the day in 2006 when G. Janardhana Reddy, the most vocal of the three Reddy brothers, created a crisis in the coalition government by claiming that Chief Minister H.D. Kumarswamy of JD-S had taken a bribe of Rs.150 crore from people illegally mining iron ore in Bellary.

To save the coalition in which Yeddyurappa was deputy chief minister, the BJP suspended Janardhana Reddy for some time. Janardhana Reddy is now tourism minister, his elder brother G. Karunakara Reddy is revenue minister and the youngest of the three - G. Somashekara Reddy is an assembly member and president of Karnataka Milk Federation, the apex body of state milk producers' societies.

Janardhana Reddy revived the attack on the JD-S leader as the coalition collapsed when Kumarswamy failed to honour his word of vacating the chief minister's chair for Yeddyurappa after occupying it for 20 months.

Instead of rattling the JD-S, which is led by former prime minister and Kumaraswamy's father H.D. Deve Gowda, the illegal mining issue has become a major embarrassment for BJP as charges continue to be leveled against the Reddy brothers.

A grave charge against the Reddys, who own the Obulapuram Mining Company, is that they have erased the boundary marks between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to make it difficult for the two states to determine which side of the border the illegal mining is on.
The Survey of India has been working on demarcating the border on the orders of the Supreme Court.

The Reddys, just a decade old in BJP, have acquired huge clout in the party and the 67-year-old Yeddyurappa is in no position to rein them in though he is associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) since around 15 years and Jan Sangh/BJP for the last 38 years.

Yeddyurapppa sobbed in front of TV cameras last year as he was forced to drop his confidante Shobha Karandlaje from the ministry and shunt out trusted officials from his set up to buy peace with the Reddys who had revolted against him.

He shed tears again at a public meeting last month in the presence of senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, whom the Reddy brothers refer to as their 'thayi' (mother), over the opposition ridiculing him for hosting the Global Investors Meet when the state is suffering from power shortage, the inadequate infrastructure even in IT hub Bangalore and the illegal looting of precious natural resources.

Early this month, Yeddyurappa vowed at another public meeting not to cry any more but work to wipe the tears of the suffering.

A tall promise given the increasing heat over several issues, including illegal mining and the clamour for Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the scam.

(Published 12 July 2010, 05:44 IST)

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