The Reddy brothers are isolated
The once-powerful Reddy brothers of Bellary find themselves increasingly isolated in Karnataka as well as with the BJP party high command in New Delhi. An explosive report by the state lokayukta could seal their fate. Vicky Nanjappa reports from Bengaluru
When the powerful Reddy brothers of Karnataka staged a coup against B S Yeddyurappa a couple of months back, they had said something very important, "Our final decision would depend on what Sushma amma says."
The Reddy brothers of Bellary have never been discreet about their association with BJP leader Sushma Swaraj. The association which began when Sushma contested the polls against Sonia Gandhi from the Bellary parliamentary seat remains intact and there has never been a moment when the Reddy's failed to acknowledge how she has been responsible in moulding their political careers.
However, today that relationship seems to have run into some trouble with Sushma Swaraj publicly disowning them and stating that they were inducted into the Karnataka cabinet thanks to Arun Jaitley.
But no matter how vehemently Swaraj denies her links with the Reddy brothers, the fact remains that she has been a godmother to these mining lords of Bellary.
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Image: Sushma Swaraj
Reddy bros a taboo in BJP circles
BJP insiders in Karnataka say that, as of today, the Reddy brothers are a taboo in the BJP circles. The mining report is just round the corner and is expected to be an explosive one.
Justice Santhosh Hegde, the Lokayukta of Karnataka, had brought out a report earlier too, stating the manner in which illegal mining was undertaken in Bellary. He had, however, not taken any names then.
However, this final report before he retires in August is expected to deal with specific individuals. Sources say that the mining lobby in Karnataka will be exposed.
This report is likely to show the Reddy brothers in poor light, and there will be immense pressure on Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa to table the report and also act against the Reddys.
Under such circumstances it was expected that Swaraj would distance herself from the Reddys, say party insiders.
But it is not as though the Reddys had started mining only after they became ministers in the Yeddyurappa government. Their mining story dates back to slightly over a decade. In fact, sources say that it was Sushma Swaraj who advised them to start mining in Bellary.
The Reddy brothers have however decided not to react. They have preferred to stay silent and watch the proceedings unfold. Yeddyurappa too has remained tightlipped on the issue.
The last thing he would want is another rift within the party, as he has spent the last three years protecting his seat and miraculously survived every coup staged against him.
K S Eshwrappa, the state party president, however dismisses this as a non-event. Swaraj's statement was only an expression of her resentment against the portrayal that she is playing godmother to them. The entire issue has been blown out of proportion, he added.
Image: Sushma Swaraj with the Reddy brothers
Reddy brothers waning influence
Yeddyurappa started facing problems from the Reddys from the days he was deputy chief minister, in the coalition government with the Janata Dal-Secular. The Reddy brothers had brought out corruption charges against the then Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.
This became the platform for the JD-S to state that they would not hand over power to the BJP after the completion of 20 months, which eventually resulted in elections in the state.
Once Yeddyurappa became the chief minister, they staged a coup by taking with them 50 members of legislative assembly and relented only once the high command stepped in.
However, the BJP cannot deny the help they received from the Reddy brothers. After the elections, the BJP needed the support of at least four independents to form the government. It was the Reddy brothers who took care of this. Each time there was dissidence within the BJP, it was the Reddy brothers who were sent out to defuse the situation.
Image: The Reddy brothers
The Reddys downward spiral
However, they ran into problems with the death of YSR and had to face many inquiries. In addition to this, the Union government too started creating problems for the Reddy brothers.
In addition, Yeddyurappa was forced to take many harsh decisions against the Reddys due to pressure from the opposition. The CM had to impose a ban on the export of iron ore from Karnataka, which caused a dent in the businesses run by the Reddys.
The Reddys, however, clung on with support from a large section of the MLAs within the BJP. But most of them turned their backs on the Reddys following the first coup. Most felt cheated that the Reddys dropped them once they had their issues sorted out. This was clear when the very same MLAs staged a coup by themselves and they did not allow the Reddys to come close or even negotiate.
The coming days are likely to decide the fate of the Reddys. At present all MLAs in the BJP want a peaceful completion of their terms, and they do realise that they would not be able to show their face in their respective constituencies if they continue to destabilise the government.
The Reddy brothers too are expected to stay calm, as any move by them at this point of time could be disastrous for them. Also, there is no one in the BJP to take up their cause.
Image: Janardhan Reddy