Karnataka BJP bets on Reddy brothers to deliver in Ballari
(Sourced from PTI)
Having fallen on hard times following the humongous iron ore mining scam, the resourceful Reddy brothers of Ballari are back in the reckoning with the BJP fielding two of them for the political potboiler of upcoming Assembly polls. The mining scam that rocked Karnataka years ago is no longer a reason for BJP to jettison the Reddy brothers whom it has embraced once again.
The party has fielded G Somashekhara Reddy in Ballari city, and his elder brother and former Ballari Lok Sabha member G Karunakara Reddy in Harappanahalli in Davanagere district.
Though the most resourceful of them, G Janardhana Reddy, has been barred from entering Ballari, in accordance with his bail conditions in the illegal mining case, he is camping near Molakalmuru in Chitradurga district. He is overseeing campaigns of his siblings as also the BJP, which is making a determined effort to form its government in the key southern state for the second time.
The BJP has publicly distanced itself from Janardhana Reddy, with party chief Amit Shah recently saying it has nothing to do with him, but ground realities suggest otherwise. Congress and a section of the BJP see Shah's statement as mere public posturing. Janardhana Reddy, they say, has been given the task of galvanizing the Reddy community votes for the saffron party in the region.
The Reddy brothers, whose stock soared during the iron ore export boom, played a key role in installing the BJP's first government in the south in 2008. At the height of their influence, the Reddy troika, two of whom were ministers and the third Somashekara Reddy, chairman of the Karnataka Milk Federation, were often accused of running the BJP government, before their clout waned.
So complete was the sway of their mining cartel's stranglehold on the region's politics that it had prompted the then Lokayukta Santosh Hegde to refer to the then Bellary (now Ballari) district as "the Republic of Bellary". But the proverbial long arm of the law caught up with Janardhana Reddy and he was jailed in the illegal mining case.
Janardhana came out on bail after being behind bars for about three-and-a-half years. The upcoming elections in Karnataka are a test of sorts for the Reddy brothers. They were in political wilderness during the 2013 polls, with the BJP steering clear of them.