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Why everyone has the Reddys in their sights

July 14, 2010 18:34 IST
The current situation in Karnataka is such that if the controversial Reddy brothers -- state ministers and Bellary's mining tycoons -- are ousted, everyone has something to gain, believes Vicky Nanjappa.

The Congress knows that the Reddy brothers from Karnataka are like oxygen to the late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajashekhar Reddy's son Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, who represents Kadapa in the Lok Sabha.

The Janata Dal-Secular too has to draw its share of blood since the Reddy brothers once accused then Karnataka chief minister and JD-S leader H D Kumaraswamy of asking for a bribe of Rs 150 crore (Rs 1.5 billion).

As for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the fight between the Reddy brothers and Chief Minister B S Yedyyurappa was out in the open last year. Yeddyurappa had to back down, sacrifice his associate Shobha Karandlaje to make peace, and will be looking to cut them down to size.

What the BJP gains:

During last year's political crisis -- when the Reddy brothers worked hard to oust Yeddyurappa as chief minister -- Bellary's mining billionaires proved they had a strong hold over the party.

Yeddyurappa has complained he is unable to function independently because of the constant pressure from the Reddy brothers.

BJP insiders told Rediff.com that under no circumstances would the party permit the chief minister to strike against the Reddy brothers as the government's stability would be at serious risk.

On Tuesday night at a dinner hosted by BJP President Nitin Gadkari in Delhi, the buzz was that it is impossible for the party to act against the Reddys since they could use their awesome monetary power to pull down the Yeddyurappa government in no time.

The BJP would like to wait for the Union government to initiate a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the illegal mining scam.

However, they don't see that happening. A CBI probe can either be ordered by a court or by the Centre based on the state government's recommendation.

Rather than recommend action against the brothers, the BJP will wait for a verdict from either the state high court or the Election Commission, which is probing matters related to the Reddy brothers's alleged disproportionate assets.

What the Congress gains:

The Congress is not immediately looking to destabilise the BJP government in Karnataka. They are aware that going to the polls would not be a good idea since the public mood is clearly not in the party's favour.

However, the Congress party in Karnataka does not control the battle against the Reddy brothers. The demand for the Reddy brothers's heads is emerging from the Congress's central leadership and Andhra Pradesh's Congress leaders opposed to Jaganmohan Reddy's continued defiance.

A couple of weeks after his father's death in a helicopter crash last September, Jaganmohan Reddy traveled to a farmhouse in Bengaluru where he is said to have met the Reddy brothers.

Intelligence agencies reported to the government that one outcome of the meeting was a likely plan to break the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh since central leaders have refused to make Jaganmohan chief minister.

The Reddy brothers would like nothing better than have their nominee in power in Hyderabad since their mining exports often use ports in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

However, Jaganmohan has not so far secured sufficient backing from Congress legislators, many of who feel it is too early to undertake such a destabilising operation since the government has four more years in office.

Jaganmohan refused to heed Congress President Sonia Gandhi's advice and embarked on his controversial outreach programme, the Odarpu Yatra, last week, ostensibly to mourn with the many Telugus who are said to have committed suicide after YSR's death.

He is calculating that the Yatra will enable him to strike a rapport with the Andhra people, just the way his father's padyatra did six years ago.

Congress leaders suspect that Jaganmohan is being funded by the Reddy brothers and would like to cut off that source of funding by curbing the brothers's mining activities in Bellary.

The Union government could refer the mining issue to the Central Vigilance Commission or even set up a commission of inquiry against the Reddy brothers.

What the JD-S gains:

For the JD-S and its leaders, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and his son H D Kumaraswamy, it is simply a case of revenge.

Kumaraswamy is still smarting at the Reddy brothers's allegation that he asked them for a bribe. Also, a legislator close to the Reddy clan, former minister Sriramulu, had alleged that Kumaraswamy tried to murder him, thus bringing the curtain down on the BJP-JD-S alliance in Karnataka a couple of years ago.

Image: G Karunakar Reddy, left and G Janardan Reddy.

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