Congress attacks BJP over Reddy’s arrest; a conspiracy, says BJP


New Delhi/Bangalore: The arrest of former Karnataka minister G. Janardhana Reddy in an illegal mining case Monday provided the Congress with ammunition to attack the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the links of some of its top leaders with the Reddy brothers. The BJP termed the arrest a Congress conspiracy.

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) early Monday arrested Janardhana Reddy in an illegal mining case registered against his Obbalapuram Mining Company from Karnataka. OMC managing director and Janardhana Reddy’s brother-in-law B. Srinivasa Reddy was also arrested.

Speaking in Jammu, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh accused BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and M. Venkaiah Naidu of having “business relations” with the Reddy brothers.

Singh alleged that Reddy brothers were not only indulging in illegal mining, but had also taken protection money from others and were virtually running an unchallenged empire. “Sushma Swaraj and Venkaiah Naidu had business relations with the Reddy brothers. This action (arrest) should have come three years ago,”Singh said.

He accused the BJP of double-speak on the issue of corruption. “I have not seen any political party which indulges in as much double-talk as the BJP on the issue of corruption,” said Singh.

Sushma Swaraj, speaking in New Delhi, said she was open to a probe on her links with the Reddy brothers. “I am putting on record that I have no commercial association with Reddy brothers,” Sushma told reporters.

Congress general secretary B.K. Hariprasad, who hails from Karnataka, demanded that CBI should expand the investigation on the illegal mining activity in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerapa Moily told reporters outside parliament that the law would take its own course following the arrest of Janardhana Reddy.

“Whoever is involved, whichever the party or status he belongs to and whichever authority he occupies, law will take its course,” Moily said, adding, “This is a lesson for everyone who occupies office as a minister or an officer that they should not misuse the office,” he added.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said the government does not interfere in the functioning of the CBI.

The BJP blamed the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) for the arrest of Reddy and expressed confidence that he will soon come out clean.

“We have full faith in the objectivity and fairness of our judicial system and we are sure that the Reddy brothers will be able to prove their innocence,” said BJP leader Balbir Punj.

He also accused the government of double standards. “We had seen various reports like the CAG (Comptroller Auditor General) report and the Shunglu committee report in Delhi on corruption but nobody has heard of CBI going and knocking at the doors of (Delhi Chief Minister) Sheila Dikshit,” he said.

Dhananjay Kumar, another BJP leader, said that if CBI comes to the conclusion that it has to apprehend somebody as part of its investigations, then it is well within its rights to do so.

He added said the mining operations carried out by the Reddy brothers was their private business and has nothing to do with the party.

BJP leaders in Karnataka condemned Janardhana Reddy’s arrest.

State BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa said in Shimoga that the arrest shows that CBI “was a Congress puppet”.

“It is a conspiracy of Congress,” said former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.

Janardhana Reddy loyalist and former health minister B. Sriramulu, who quit the assembly Sunday over not being made a minister again, slammed the CBI.

“It is nothing but Congress conspiracy against us,” he told reporters in Mysore.

Janardhana Reddy was tourism minister in the cabinet of B.S. Yeddyurappaa, who had to resign in the wake of the Lokayukta report. His elder brother G. Karunakara was revenue minister while younger brother G. Somashekara is an assembly member from Bellary.

Hailing from Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district, the Reddy brothers made Karnataka’s iron ore rich district of Bellary, about 390 km from Hyderabad, their home.

The Reddys, who were small businessmen, became billionaires after entering into mining 10 years ago.