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It's Yeddy versus Reddy in Karnataka

Last updated on: July 21, 2010 18:08 IST

The Karnataka chief minister is involved in a fight to the finish with the Reddy brothers over the mining scam. Vicky Nanjappa reports.

There is trouble brewing in the Bharatiya Janata Party yet again in Karnataka. A lot of events that have taken place backstage give the indication that both the chief minister's camp and the Reddy brothers are at it once again and will, in the coming months, fight it out for supremacy.

Just when one thought the two camps had buried their differences, the illegal mining scam has returned to haunt the two sides, which has also prompted both to complain to the BJP high command yet again.

Highly-placed sources in the BJP told that Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, during his recent meeting with the high command in New Delhi, had sought action against the Reddy brothers. Although Yeddyurappa had in the assembly last week said there was no question of a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the scam, he changed his stance before the high command and sought action against the Reddys as the party's image had suffered due to the scam.

However, a couple of leaders who support the Reddy camp were firm that action will not be taken. They said it will not be right to act against them since they have contributed a lot to the party.

A dominant section in the high command, however, expressed helplessness to Yeddyurappa and told him that there was not a piece of evidence to act against the Reddys. However, highly-placed sources also informed that the only way out is to wait for the Lokayukta report. If there is clinching evidence against the Reddy brothers in it, they could act against the brothers.

The Lokayukta, Justice N Santosh Hegde, has indicated that he will need at least six months to submit his report on illegal mining.

BJP sources say Yeddyurappa was determined to get the high command to act against the Reddy brothers this time. However, his statements in a span of two days was only an indication of how he had to sober down thanks to the high command not agreeing to his demand. A day before he flew down to New Delhi earlier this week, he had said he will speak with the high command and action will be taken against those who have brought a bad name to the party. The very next day he said there is no proof whatsoever against the Reddy brothers and he is 101 per cent sure that they are clean.

The Yeddyurappa camp says he is extremely upset with the rally the Reddy brothers are planning to take out a rally from Bellary to Mysore (stronghold of Congress leader Siddaramaiah) to tell the people that they are innocent. BJP's leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who the Reddy brothers call mother, is expected to take part in the rally.

Yeddyurappa is perturbed by the rally for two reasons. One is that it clashes with his own rally which he proposes to take out next month, and second, he does not want another powerhouse emerging within the BJP. He feels the Reddy brothers with their might and money power will mobilise the masses and could also get a lot of party MLAs on board.

Yeddyurappa had planned on visiting three districts every month for the next 10 months to meet the people. This was in preparation for the upcoming zilla panchayat and taluk panchayat elections in which he is keen on leading the party to victory. Party insiders also pointed out that he has been trying to get his close aide, Shobha Karandalge, back into the government through a cabinet reshuffle on August 13. He is anticipating trouble from the Reddy faction and was even ready for a mid-term poll if matters get out of hand.

The yatra he has been planning will also aim at generating support in such an eventuality.

However, now he feels the Reddy brothers' yatra will take the shine off his and he had even told Sriramulu, a minister who is close to the Reddy brothers, not to go ahead with their plans. However, the Reddys put their foot down, since with Swaraj's participation it is as good as the high command blessing it.

Where does it leave Yeddyurappa, remains to be seen.

Vicky Nanjappa