As the Congress and the JD(S) parties announced their plan to stage a march to Bellary from Bangalore, Health minister B Sriramulu, a close confidante of the Reddy brothers, has resolved to take a similar counter-march from Bellary to Mysore.
The minister termed the padayatra as an effort to “uphold the pride of Bellary” whose image has been tarnished by a series of comments by Opposition parties. He will take out a march along with his supporters to Mysore, the home-town of Congress leader Siddaramaiah. The minister said he would “expose Congress leaders involved in illegal mining” during the padayatra.
But political observers view the proposed padayatra as a show of strength by the Bellary ministers to impress the central leadership of the party in order to pre-empt any move against them in view of the recent development starting from the Lokayukta resignation episode, the Assembly stand-off and the Governor’s statements.
The continuing commotion over illegal mining issue has caused differences within the party. Several BJP MLAs have raised why the party should face embarrassment for the allegations of illegal mining levelled against only three ministers.
The Reddy camp held consultation meetings with MLAs supporting it, while the Chief Minister held a separate meeting in which around 30 MLAs attended.
The imbroglio in the legislature is rooted in the Opposition parties demand for a CBI probe into illegal mining. The target of the Opposition is was none other than the Bellary ministers, who are powerful in the Yeddyurappa cabinet.
The Bellary BJP leaders played a major role in providing stability to the government by conducting the operation Kamala successfully. And, they, rather brutally reminded Yeddyurappa of their power by threatening to topple the government when he tried to clip their wings in October 2009.
Following the unsavoury scenes in the Legislative Assembly hall on Friday, the Congress and JD(S) leaders had some harsh criticism for the Bellary MLAs. JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy announced he would launch a non-political agitation to ‘save Bellary’. Because the BJP refused to refer illegal mining for a CBI probe, the Congress declared it would launch a march to Bellary from Bangalore.
Ramulu said, “I have appealed to party members in Bellary and neighbouring districts to take part in the march. Nearly 10,000 workers will join me in the march”.
The distance between Bellary and Mysore is close to 390 km. Ramulu, who has been used to luxurious comforts including helicopters after entering into mining business, does not mind walking that distance.
“I have been enjoying luxury only for the last few years. I come from a poor family. Forget helicopter, I did not have even a bicycle. Walking is not at all a task for me”, he said.
The minister said he would finalise the date and route of the march after discussing with ministers Karunakara Reddy, Janardana Reddy and other notables of the BJP.
The major saga of miners
May 2008 BJP government assumes power, but is just short of majority.
May 2008 The Reddy brothers of Bellary rope in independent MLAs into BJP fold.
July 2008 Operation Kamala launched; three MLAs from other parties inducted to Cabinet.
Oct 2009 Reddys rebel against Yeddyurappa when he tries to clip their wings.
Oct 2009 War with Reddys escalates Chief Minister transfers Bellary officers en masse
Nov 2009 Crisis resolved after Sushma Swaraj’s mediation.
Dec 2009 The Cabinet withdraws criminal cases against Reddys; Cancels transfer of Bellary officers.
Jan 2010 Cong MLC K C Kondaiah files a petition with the Governor seeking disqualification of Bellary ministers as legislators.
June 2010 Governor H R Bhardwaj forwards the petition to Election Commission.
July 2010 Opposition parties demand CBI inquiry into illegal mining.