Gali Janardhana Reddy’s arrest BJP’S Cup Of Woes Overflows In Karnataka
The early hours coordinated and secret raids conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday led by its Andhra Pradesh DIG PV Lakshminarayana and a team of 15 sleuths at the residences of mining czar of Bellary Gali Janardhana Reddy at Bellary and Bengaluru and his subsequent arrest has in a way cast a shadow over one of the high-profile politicians in modern India.
The CBI raids at Reddy’s fortified and most modern residence at Bellary woke him up from his early morning dreams to reality. Gali Janardhana Reddy, former Karnataka Tourism Minister and a powerful BJP MLC from Karnataka, was arrested for various criminal charges in relation to a two-year-old CBI case in AP, relating to illegal mining by Reddy-owned Obalapuram Mining Company located at Obalapuram in AP bordering Karnataka.
The team simultaneously conducted raids at his Bengaluru and Bellary residences apart from questioning many including his wife Lakshmi Aruna at Bellary. The team also arrested the CEO of the Obalapuram Mining Company (OMC) and his relative Srinivasa Reddy and both of them were taken to Hyderabad, where a CBI court remanded them to judicial custody.
Janardhana Reddy, son of a police constable from Bellary, who just surfaced in 1999, became a powerful mining baron along with his two brothers Karunakara Reddy and Somashekara Reddy and his associate B Sriramulu. He has been taken to Hyderabad by road from Bellary by the CBI team with full protection. The charges against him include criminal conspiracy, cheating, theft, corruption and illegal mining under IPC, prevention of corruption act and under Indian forest act and minerals and mining act.
The CBI confiscated lots of incriminating documents, a diary, laptops, hard cash and many documents relating to their business, apart from this, they have also seized a helicopter. The CBI searches at their premises led to seizure of over 30 kg of gold and more than Rs 4.5 crore in cash and a sum of Rs 1.5 crore was also seized from the residence of Reddy’s brother-in-law Srinivasa Reddy.
Even though the BJP was very cautious about reacting to the arrest of its high profile MLC Janardhana Reddy, there was a feeling of great relief for a section of party leaders. Some of them find this an opportunity for the party to rebuild its image under the leadership of its new Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, a clever operator, gaining grounds now towards consolidation.
However, these are not good times for the BJP government in Karnataka, the party’s first in south India that was installed with much fanfare and hope in May 2008. BS Yeddyurappa, the man who literally built the party from scratch, was sworn in chief minister and many believed it’s a start of winds of change in the State. Thirty-eight months later, the BJP appeared battered and bruised because of a maze of allegations of corruption that the BJP government allowed illegal mining in Karnataka particularly benefiting the powerful Reddy brothers—G Karunakara and G Janardhana.
BJP central leadership forced Yeddyurappa to quit as Chief Minister in July-end following a Lokayukta report on illegal mining, bringing to an end an eventful tenure during which the opposition Congress and JDS spared no efforts to continuously target his government with a string of corruption charges that over-shadowed the government’s performance.
The latest embarrassment to the ruling dispensation in the state is arrest of G Janardhana Reddy, the Bellary strongman, by CBI in connection with alleged irregularities of Obalapuram Mining Company in Andhra Pradesh, where it’s registered.
Significantly, the CBI action came a day after Reddy’s associate, B Sriramulu had resigned as MLA, saying he is pained and hurt by the Lokayukta’s report that also named him, along with Karunakara Reddy. Many saw the move of Sriramulu, who was Health and Family Welfare Minister in the previous Yeddyurappa ministry, as an attempt by him and Reddy brothers to exert pressure on the party on cabinet berths as they had been left out by the Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda as their names figures in the Lokayukta’s report.
“Sriramulu had sent a letter (earlier) to Sadananda Gowda as to why he can’t be included in the Ministry. The Chief Minister has sent the letter to the Advocate General seeking his opinion on it. Once Advocate General gives his view, the Chief Minister will take a call on his induction into the Ministry,” state BJP Chief KS Eshwarappa said.
Reddy’s arrest and Sriramulu’s resignation have come at a time, when Sadananda Gowda completed just one month in office and is trying his best to come to grips with the situation as there is little doubt that BJP is a divided house and factions are at full play.
There is speculation on the stability of the Sadananda Gowda government, as factions pull in different directions. Gowda is facing discomfiture from all fronts. Gowda handled things deftly when he was state unit president, a four-year tenure during which the BJP rode to power and now his task is cut out with tight-rope walking and a balancing act to do.
Despite contradictions, it’s unlikely that the BJP government would collapse anytime soon. None wants election now. Polls are due only in May 2013 and a vast section of legislators dread the prospect of facing the electorate now.
It was a good opportunity for the Congress to consolidate itself as the BJP appears to be in dis-array. But Congress leaders are yet to pull up their socks, and the party’s resurgence is nowhere to be seen. Congress factions are working to cut each other to size and unity in action is still elusive. Observers say if the Congress is able to put up a united face, they stand a good chance at the hustling.
The other main political party, Janata Dal (Secular) of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda has also failed to capitalise on BJP woes. The party’s Lok Sabha member, state unit President and Deve Gowda’s son, HD Kumaraswamy, is also facing corruption charges during his tenure as Chief Minister and the matter is being heard in courts.
The BJP government is also faced with a quandary as to how to deal with the report on illegal mining that was submitted to it by the then Lokayukta N Santosh Hegde that already has cost Yeddyurappa his chair. The government has appointed a committee, headed by Additional Chief Secretary K Jairaj to study the voluminous report running into 25,000 pages, and promised to take a view on the Lokayukta’s report once this committee submitted its report.
It’s clear that coming weeks and months are going to be turbulent for the ruling BJP as the stakes go up in the run-up to the election. Unless BJP gets its acts together and gets it quickly, time may be too late for the ruling party, whose credibility has gone down considerably.
Though the opposition is a divided house, it can’t be underestimated; neither can it be taken lightly. BJP definitely needs an image make-over and observers say Sadananda Gowda is “better of the lot” to do that job and do it efficiently and effectively. Whether he would be allowed to do so by rivals in the party is to be seen. At present, Sadananda Gowda’s hands seem to be tied but with the solid support of the party’s central leadership, there is little doubt that he can take the BJP only to a position of strength.
By Ram from Bengaluru