The Congress’s decision on Sunday came after Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa defended the beleaguered state ministers.Claiming they would “expose” the Congress and the JD(S) on Monday, the Reddys brothers appeared to take on the Congress challenge, saying in Delhi that the ruling BJP in the state would also launch a “padayatra” to counter a similar agitation announced by the Opposition.
Congress sources said their padayatra, which will be led by a host of central and state-level leaders, will likely culminate in Bellary on August 9, to coincide with Mahatma Gandhi’s “Quit India” call 68 years ago. “The rally in Bellary that day will call for the removal of the Reddy brothers from the Cabinet”, the sources said.
The padayatra will cover the districts of Bangalore (urban), Bangalore (rural), Tumkur, Chitradurga and Bellary. “We plan to walk the 320 km between Bangalore and Bellary in 15 days, covering about 20 km each day. Public meetings will be held in each district and a massive convention will be held in Bellary”, State Congress president K V Deshpande said. Several central leaders of the Congress are likely to join the agitation.
Slamming Yeddyurappa for giving a clean chit to the Reddys, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said there was an “absolute abdication of rule of law” in Karnataka.
In the face of the Congress’s unrelenting attitude, the chief minister’s defence of the Reddy brothers, who are allegedly involved in illegal mining in Karnataka, came after the national BJP leadership decided to stand by them and Yeddyurappa.
Emboldened by his party’s unqualified support to his government and some of his Cabinet colleagues, Yeddyurappa lashed out against Bhardwaj, saying the Governor “has overstepped his limits” by demanding the ouster of the Reddy brothers.
This is the first time that the chief minster has used strong words against the Governor.
Rejecting again the Congress and JD(S) demand for a CBI probe into alleged illegal mining in Karnataka, Yeddyurappa said he would write to Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde on Monday and ask him to conduct a probe into all mining operations between 2002 and 2010.
The central BJP leadership is believed to have asked the chief minister and the Reddy brothers to politically counter the offensive launched by the Congress and the JD(S).
Speaking to journalists before leaving New Delhi for Bangalore, Yeddyurappa said the Reddy brothers were “101 per cent clean” and there was no question of dropping them from the Cabinet.
The day began with Yeddyurappa having a breakfast meeting with Janardhana Reddy and Karunakara Reddy at the Karnataka Bhavan in Delhi.
The Reddys later met the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and their mentor in BJP’s central power structure, Sushma Swaraj.A section of the BJP’s central leaders were of the view that the Reddys should be asked to resign and stay out of the government till they were cleared by a probe so that the party’s image was not tarnished.
But, according to the sources, Swaraj convinced the other top BJP leaders that the party would be seen as weak and buckling under pressure from the Congress and the JD (S) if its central leadership asked the Reddys to resign.
“As the chief minister, it is my prerogative to decide who would be there in my Cabinet. Come what may, they (the Reddys) would continue to be ministers in my government,” the chief minister said.
He also said that the Congress and JD (S) would not be able to make any political gain by launching the propaganda to tarnish his government’s image. “If anybody believes that he has any evidence (against Reddys), he should go to court,” Yeddyurappa said.
Tourism Minister G Janardhana Reddy said that the BJP would foil the pressure-tactics of the Congress. “We are united, we will fight against the challenges thrown by the Congress as we have been doing since long,” he said.
Denying their role in any illegal activity, the Reddys said that the BJP top brass had advised them to continue working with Yeddyurappa.
BSY to expand Cabinet soon
Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on Sunday said he would expand his cabinet soon, but that has nothing to do with the prevailing controversy over illegal mining, reports DHNS from New Delhi. He said the party top brass has given him suggestions about the probables.