Of the many mining barons in the party, only Santosh Lad, MLA from Kalaghatgi was seen with the marchers on Monday. Prominent mine owners such as Allam Veerabhadrappa, Anil Lad and Abdul Wahab, all from Bellary were nowhere to be seen.
Veerabhadrappa said he had been to Solapur in Maharashtra to attend a religious programme on Sunday. He said he was camping in Bellary to make preparations for the convention in the city scheduled for August 9. He would take part in the padayatra for a day along with his supporters after July 30.
“I suffered an injury in leg after I met with an accident a few years ago. I can’t walk for long. I will take a walk for a kilometre along with my supporters on any of the coming days”, he said.
Anil Lad, Rajya Sabha member, had just taken part in the inaugural function. Abdul Wahab, who is with five mining companies, said he is in Hospet to supervise the party’s organisational elections. He said he would join the padayatra in a couple of days.
Ask him whether illegal mining has been carried out by the Reddys, he will not give a direct reply. All he said was, “I have been into mining business from the last 35 years. I headed mining owners’ association for many years. It is unfortunate that mining businessmen are equated with looters. The system which was in existence has been disrupted now. My party has taken up the illegal mining issue and I am supporting it”.
Santosh Lad, who is 34, has no problems in walking 20 km a day. Lad, who was in news recently after being arrested in Mumbai in a cheating case, jogs for 8-9 km a day on treadmill. He gives suggestions his fellow Congressmen and media people on burning calories. “By walking 20 km a day for 15 days with controlled diet, one can reduce four-five kg of weight,” he says.
Like his party leaders, he also favoured a CBI probe into the illegal mining. But his reason for demanding it is different. “Nowadays there is an impression among the public that every mine owner is a looter. Let there be a thorough investigation by the CBI to find out who are the culprits.”
DH News Service