Death of Kashmiri and the Indian perspective

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One of the world’s most dreaded terrorists, Ilyas Kashmiri has been killed in a drone attack at South Waziristan today. The death comes close on the heels of the 26/11 attack taking another twist in which it has been said that Kashmiri was the one who scripted the attack and the same was approved by the ISI.
While Kashmiri remained a threat to the entire world and the United States in particular, India is thrilled with the information of his death.
Kashmiri’s obsession to undertake attacks on Indian soil is nothing new. His latest plan was to carry out an operation known as “Ghazb-e-Hind in which he wanted to ensure the destruction of India.
Who was Kashmiri? Also known as Maulana Ilyas Kashmiri, this man born in the year 1964 started out as a mujhahideen fighting the USSR. Hailing from the Kotli district of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, he was from the very beginning in the close company of the dreaded ISI in Pakistan. There were reports that he was part of the Special Services Group of the Pakistan army too. This man who lost one eye while fighting the Soviets was one of the fiercest warriors in Afghanistan.
However Kashmiri’s primary agenda had always been Kashmir and he had said on several ocassions that he wanted to complete the battle in the valley. Soon after the Soviet war, he spent a lot of time in Kashmir and introduced the militant group, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) in India. However there was a falling out between him and the ISI when the latter insisted that he fight alongside Maulana Masood Azhar in Kashmir. Kashmiri refused to do so and fell out with the ISI. This prompted him to start his own outfit called as the 313 brigade which today is associated with the Al-Qaeda.
During his battle in Kashmir, he was also once arrested by Indian forces. But he managed to escape after two years in prison. On his return to Pakistan, he continued to control operations in Kashmir and was even awarded by Pervez Musharaf who was the army chief at that time.
However after his fall out with the ISI, he even attempted to assassinate Pervez Musharaff for which he was arrested. He was however let off following which he continued battle US forces in Afghanistan under the banner of the 313 brigade.
In the year 2009, US forces had claimed to have killed this man at North Wazirstan. However that news proved to be false and Kashmiri came out in the open and gave an interview to Salim Shehzad of Asia Times Online who was recently killed allegedly by the ISI.
On August 6, 2010 the United States labeled Kashmiri a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” while the United Nations added him and his group HuJI to its blacklist established under UN Security Council Resolution 1267.
The 26/11 connection: The connection that Kashmiri had to this attack had slowly started to come out following an interview to Asia Times Online and now the death of Shehzad. Speaking about Kashmiri, the late Shehzad had told us that Kashmiri was in the know about the 26/11attacks. He also said that Kashmiri had said that the attack was originally conceived by a Pakistani security agency.
As a run-up to the attack several low profile attacks were carried out in India. Under the direction of General Ashfaq Kayani — then the Inter Services Intelligence director general; now the Pakistan army chief — low key attacks were initially planned in India. This plan continued when General Nadeem Taj took over as ISI chief after Kayani was promoted to his present position.
A few dozen terrorists were trained at the Mangla dam near Islamabad to be later sent to Gujarat from where they were to travel to Kashmir and give the militancy in that state a terror fillip. Lashkar leader Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhwi, who faces a trial for his role in the 26/11 attacks, was part of this plan.
After Al Qaeda representatives stepped in, they suggested that instead of carrying out a low-profile attack on Kashmir, the 26/11 attack be staged instead. Lakhvi and his ISI minders disassociated with the original plan of attacking Kashmir and decided to go ahead with this attack.
Shahzad had also pointes out that Kashmiri believes India will soon involve itself militarily in Afghanistan. And when that happens the Ghazb-e-Hind will be launched with a massive terror operation across India.
The India connection: The intelligence bureau in India says that his death has come exactly at a time when Pakistan’s ISI wanted it the most. He was beginning to become an embarrassment for the Pakistan establishment. There existence of Kashmiri only meant that the system would have been exposed. The recent attack at Karachi and also the 26/11 attack are two incidents that the ISI would rather let the world forget. The death of Shehzad and now Kashmiri are clear indications of the fact that the ISI wants to conceal a lot. For Shehzad, Kashmiri was a big source for his stories and during their interactions many aspects regarding the involvement of the ISI in various attacks had begun to come to light. The naval base attack at Karachi was something that Shehzad had been writing about and he had started to expose the infiltration of the Al-Qaeda into the Pakistani establishment. This was something that the ISI could not afford at this time since the ongoing trial at Chicago too has put the ISI in a very embrassing situation. One one hand Headley claims that it was the ISI which was behind this attack to some extent and on the other Rana too had said that he was an ISI agent and not a Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative. On the other hand there is a suit filed by the Israeli family against the ISI and the court had decided on issuing summons to the ISI leadership.
The IB says that with the death of Osama Bin Laden, there has been a change in the mindset of the terror outfits. They expected the ISI to protect him, but today feel let down. Moreover the ISI had also softened its stance against the US and was seen making their peace in order to avoid any sort of embarrassment in the US courts. This effectively meant that the terror groups were hell bent on battling the ISI. Kashmiri in particular has been very vocal about the ISI and the establishment did expect him to continue speaking out against the ISI. When this was the case, the ISI must have thought it is better to blow his cover and get the US to eliminate who anyways have him on their hit list.
Indian agencies also point out that in the past few months, Kashmiri had been showing keen interest in India. He not only wanted to battle Indian forces in Kashmir, but also wanted to carry out operations across the country. He had termed his operation as Ghazb-e-Hind. IB reports suggest that a large recruitment drive had already commenced and a major of cadres from Kerala had been roped in and were being trained under him. The IB says he sure was a big threat to India and his elimination has come as very good news.

Can India nail the Kashmiri-26/11 link?

Photo courtesy:
The statement by US State Department spokesman Mark Toner has been a very encouraging one for Indian investigating agencies probing the David Headley case He had said yesterday that they would look into it and also consider further access to Headley if the need be.

This is a very encouraging statement for India, since somewhere down the line during the course of the Headley trial, Indian agencies felt a bit let down when he suddenly went soft on the ISI. The trial had begun with a lot of promise and during the first half Headley had spoken considerably about the ISI. However in the second half he appeared to have gone soft on the ISI and said that the top management never knew about the attack.

Officers who interrogated Headley the last time say that there was not a lot of new information that came out. This was largely due to the plea bargaining that Headley had entered into and this actually gave him the security not to divulge more than what he had already said at first. Thanks to this legal issue, there were many questions that remained unanswered and there was not much scope to ask further questions.

However if at all we do manage to get access to him the second time, the questioning would be slightly different. We would be armed with his testimony before the court and also the verdict of the court at Chicago. This would give the Indian investigating agencies more room to interrogate Headley since there will be some fresh questions that would be need to be asked.

The point that India is looking to make in this case is the ISI angle to the case. Although Headley did the turn around and said only a select few of the ISI were involved in this attack. However India has maintained that this attack was completely sponsored by the establishment. The new angle would also be the Ilyas Kashmiri angle which is today being spoken about in the Pakistani media. Kashmiri himself had made a claim to the Late Salim Shehzad that it was the Al-Qaeda which planned the attack and was later hijacked by the ISI. It is a well known fact that David Headley was closely associated with Kashmiri and they did share a lot during the time of the Mickey Mouse project.

India would look to get more information on this aspect and whether Headley and Kashmiri had discussed anything about the 26/11 plot. This would be a very interesting aspect since if Indian agencies do manage to confirm this through Headley then the entire case would have a new dimension. This would not only attribute the attack to the Al-Qaeda but would nail the ISI which eventually cleared or hijacked the attack.

India does hope that the second round of interrogation, if at all granted access would be a more productive one. We are yet to ascertain whose help Headley had taken locally to go about his work. This continues to remain a dark part of the investigation since it is impossible that only he and Rana may have gone about this job all by themselves, sources also said.

AP Congress-Safe for Now

There was trouble yet again in Andhra Pradesh with the Telegu Desam Party moving a no confidence motion against the Congress Government yesterday. However analysing the situation as of now, it appears that this entire exercise may not gain any more steam and the chances are that the Congress will survive this scare if at all the trust vote goes through.

For starters, the TDP chief, Chandrababu Naidu had made it clear that he did not want to topple the government. This would mean that he was trying to give the Congress a shake up as he felt that they were not performing. However the problem for the Congress is neither the TDP or anyother party.

With 155 MLAs in the Congress they are comfortably placed in the assembly in which the magic number required to survive is 148. The biggest factor here is the Jagan Mohan Reddy factor. The Jagan camp has claimed that it does have the support of 40 MLAs in the Congress and they are ready to cross over to the YSR Congress Party at any point of time.

Sources in the YSR Congress party say that they are still deciding on what is to be done. We would want to see if the TDP moves the motion in the first place. Even during the Kadapa by-poll, Jagan had made it clear that the Congress and the TDP are one and there is no opposition in Andhra Pradesh. He had also stated that he did not want to topple the government and would rather have his party play the role of a constructive opposition.

Judupi Prabhakar who is a leader of the YSR party too says that same thing. He says that no decision has been taken as yet. There is no reason for us to believe Naidu and we cannot say anything until he really decides on moving the trust vote, he also pointed out.

Meanwhile the Congress camp looks upbeat at the moment. They say that they have their strategy ready and there is no threat to the government whatsoever. The moment a trust vote is moved, a whip will be issued. The Congress says that it would disqualify the members who do not support the party during the trust vote. This would reduce the strength of the house and the Congress would be able to sail through the trust vote. Moreover it is confident of the support of the 18 PRP MLAs and seven from the MIM. The TRS has however made it clear that it would vote against the government if at all a trust vote is moved.

The Jagan camp is aware of this ploy by the Congress and hence it is unlikely that they would do anything to destabilise the government. Moreover if these members are disqualified for anti party activities, then it becomes difficult for them contest immediately. In addition to this, Jagan has been clearly advised not to topple the government immediately since in the minds of the public it would look as though he is fighting a personal battle due to his fall out with the party.

Members in this camp say that he intends building the party. He has won no doubt in Kadapa by an enviable margin, but it will take a bit more time to test the waters in the rest of the state. Hence the game plan would be wait and watch. He has also taken into account the Telangana factor and would prefer it if the government fell on its own rather than him pulling it.

Political analysts in Andhra Pradesh say that this is not the worst scenario for the Congress. We are sure that in all probability the trust vote may not be moved after all. Moreover going by Naidu’s tone it is clear that the TDP MLAs will stage a walk out when the trust vote is moved and hence it is a clear indication that the Congress is safe for the moment. The Telangana issue is something that they will need to worry about. They will face the heat from their own MLAs and there is very little that they can do in case there is such a revolt.

However as of now all the political energy is being focused on the election to the post of speaker which will be held tomorrow. There would be more clarity on the existing issue once this election is over since the process can commence only once a speaker is elected.


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Quiet little security catastrophe

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Imagine your virus scanner scanning for 10 million viruses every time you open, close or even go near a file. By the end of next year we will have 10-15 million viruses and this phenomenon has been termed as a “quiet little security catastrophe.”

Symantec’s latest Internet Security Threat Report XVI reveals that a majority of malware samples observed in India spread through removable drives. Even Stuxnet, the first computer worm to affect real-world infrastructure, for which India was the third-most infected country, initially entered the network of critical infrastructure providers through removable drives.

Unfortunately, while thumb drives are easy to plug out, malware is not. Today’s sophisticated attacks are those that stay in hiding within a network, until instructed by the malware authors to steal information or perform other malicious activities. Very often, the victim network is not even aware that it has been infected! In this case too, prevention is better than cure, and stopping an infection at the earliest is better than attempting the lengthy and complex remediation process.

One example is the use of social networks to gather information about users and trick them into clicking on malware infected attachments or websites. They are getting more sophisticated with how they send out spam so that you are lot less likely to detect that it is malicious. Another threat vector is through infecting search results. Hackers and criminals have become savvy enough to use the top search terms at any time and infect those search results with malware infected web pages. Often someone just clicking on a search result will be redirected to a rogue site and get infected with malware or viruses.

Endpoint security is the equivalent of airport health checks in the digital world. It prevents malicious attacks at the gate – or the endpoint (which could be a PC, smartphone, laptop or even tablet) – and protects against these threats from infecting the entire network.

26/11- Will India will push Pak now?
With the trial in the 26/11 case on in full swing at Chicago, United States of America, the big question is whether India can make the push against Pakistan which it has been looking to do for a long time now? Indian authorities who have made it clear that their stand has been vindicated following the confessions of David Headley have maintained that they are examining the trial on a day to day basis and a report in this regard is being prepared.
The National Investigating Agency which has been under immense pressure to file a chargesheet in this case however says that there is no hurry and they would want to prepare a fool proof case. A precedent would be laid while this chargesheet is filed and there shall be absolutely no loop holes what so ever. Earlier, Home Secretary G K Pillai had pointed out that it could be possible that they may join the law suit in the United States of America. However there is no decision on that as yet and Home Minister, P Chidamabaram has stated that there is no decision on this matter as yet. However it seems unlikely that India may join the law suit in the US. On obtaining advise from legal experts on this matter, India has realised that in case they join the law suit in the US, then any decision would be binding on them. Although the Indian law does not have any provision that they should abide by the decision of the US court, they are still aware that any decision would be largely acceptable by the international community. Take for instance, India does lose its case in the US, there is an option to go ahead with our own trial. But the problem is that the international community would largely subscribe to the verdict of the US court and this would create problems when we try and exert pressure on Pakistan. As an official puts it, “more often than not, the world considers the verdict of a US court as the sole and gospel truth.”
While there is no doubt that the NIA would go and interrogate Rana once the trial is over, the other push that India is making is to send a judicial commission to Pakistan. Pakistan was to send a similar commission to India in the middle of May, but there has been no communication from them as yet. Sources say that there is no time frame fixed as yet with regard to the date of the visit of the commission. We would wait for the Rana trial at Chicago to conclude before we send the commission.
The commission which will visit Pakistan has a very crucial role to play. The most important job of the commission would be to verify the voice samples of the various handlers and terrorists involved in the 26/11 attack. We have heard the names of Sajid Mir, Major Iqbal, Samir Ali and the rest. However the verification of the voice samples is extremely crucial to our case, sources also point out. Although unlikely, the Indian judicial commission would look to interrogate some of the prime accused in this case. The chances are bleak since Pakistan will try and avoid any interrogation. In such a scenario, the commission would seek the interrogation and investigation report of these accused which also include, Zaki-ur-Rehma Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed.
The report of the commission would then be shared with the NIA, which in turn would use to file their chargesheet following which the trial will be held.
Meanwhile India continues to keep a close tab on the ongoing trial at Chicago. There has been a bit of bad news with Rana’s attorney suggesting that his client may not take to the box. This would mean that his role in the attack could be known only through cross examination and also the final order of the court. India expected him to speak about the role of the ISI and also had hoped that he would stick to his earlier version where he had said that he was an operative of the ISI and not the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. While this has been a bit of a set back, India is still pinning its hopes on its independent interrogation of Rana. The interrogation would be done only once the trial is completed. Indian agencies say that the forthcoming visit by Hillary Clinton in July. Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs had indicated that apart from the Pakistan problem, the talks in July would focus on the Headley/ Rana case. India will look to make a push for the interrogation and also possible extradition of Rana during the visit by Hillary Clinton, sources in the MEA also pointed out.

Reliability of Headley and the Indian position

Photo-The Hindu

The turn around which Indian investigating agencies were expecting in the Tawwahur Rana case finally happened with David Headley testifying that the top leadership of the ISI had nothing to do with the 26/11 attack.

Indian agencies who would be visiting the US during July to interrogate Rana say that they did expect Headley’s testimony to be full of twists and turns. While interrogating Headley we did realize that he was a smart operative and was capable to changing versions. However during his interrogation with both the FBI and the NIA, his versions did remain intact. The NIA will stick to what he has told them during their interrogation and the chargesheet would be filed on that basis. However the final chargesheet would corroborate the statements of both Headley and Rana following which the versions would be matched, NIA sources also said.

Headley’s testimony and versions were always suspect and anyone who thought that he was speaking the whole truth and not trying to save his own skin is a fool. Indian intelligence sources say that it is next to impossible to believe that only a part of the ISI was in the know of the 26/11 attack. The ISI has been a very strong element till date only because of the manner in which they perfectly follow the hierarchy. There have been no defectors from the ISI till date and nothing at all against the top leadership within the ISI is even remotely possible. If  a considerable small person like Sabahuddin claims that he had met with Asfhaq Kiyani, then it is highly unlikely that likes of David Headley and Rana would have been oblivious to the top leadership.

Coming back to Headley, Indian agencies say that they do expect Rana to retort since he must be feeling let down. Rana and Headley who knew each other from childhood are now sort of at logger heads in theChicagocourt. Hence today it becomes even more interesting to see what Rana would have to say against Headley in court.

Indian agencies share the view point of the defence attornerys in thChicagotrial. They had said that Headley’s version is unreliable and he had implicated Rana in the plot with a view of making a deal with the prosecutors. Moreover Headley right from the start was keen on playing safe and immediately entered into a plea bargain with the US authorities. He would do anything to get a better deal from the prosecution now and is capable of spinning a lot of stories in the court. Rana’ attorney, Charles Swift too was forced to mention to the press that Headley hides the truth from everyone and he is like a spider who maneuvers everything in the web so it works out his way.

Indian agencies say that the turn around against Rana was an expected one. The moment he entered into a plea bargain, he donned the role of a government witness. The evidence by such persons is always considered tainted and hence the final call would be upon the judge whether to believe this evidence or not. After examination of the confession and cross examination will the judge take into account the statements. Moreover judges all over the world are more cautious while passing orders on the statements made by approvers.

India however would have to worry too much about these flip flops, sources say. Indian agencies would go strictly by his confession. In Indian terminology Headley would be termed as an approver.Indiacould also exercise a similar option with Headley and also Rana when they commence their case here. While their statements would have to be examined during the trial, it still would makeIndia’s case much easier considering the fact that it is hard to extradite these two men, especially Headley who has entered into a plea bargain.

While the David Headley case appears to an open and shut one for the Indian agencies, the issue would however be the testimony against the ISI. ForIndia, the ISI link to the 26/11 case is an extremely important one and they did have a lot of expectations from these testimonies. At first it appeared as though Headley would nail the top brass of the ISI, but today there clearly is a diversion. We would need to wait for Rana’s testimony and see whether he sticks to his statements. It is not as though we are putting all our eggs into one basket and basing our case entirely on what happens inChicago. We have our independent investigation to show that even the top brass of the ISI was in the know of this attack, sources also pointed out. However we cannot jump the gun on any of the issues since the trial is still on and we have no choice but to wait for that to conclude before we make our move.


How vulnerable are our seas today?


The attack on the Pakistan naval base last week went on to show how fragile the situation in that country is and once again after 26/11 it showed to the world how vulnerable the seas were. Security experts post 26/11 had warned always that the seas continued to be the biggest threat.

Indian officials who were traveling with the Prime Minister to Africa last week had informed that on their return to New Delhi they would hold discussions in order to review the attack at Pakistan and what the impact it would have on India. With this team returning to New Delhi the situation is being assessed and the threat factor to India is also being calculated. The biggest worry however that was expressed during these meetings was threat was being posed to the nuclear establishments in Pakistan. The meeting of security experts also discussed that such threats through the sea continued to pose a danger to India and today a high alert has been sounded across all coasts in India. The meetings also discussed that terrorists from Pakistan would attempt to use the sea more often since they do realize that it is difficult to man the coast. Moreover the situation in Pakistan continues to be extremely fragile and there were a series of attacks expected in retaliation to the death of Osama Bin Laden. Although India was not a direct target in this Osama affair, Indian agencies are taking no risks since they are aware that terror groups can go bersek in order to prove their point and more often than not they have defied everyone’s logic while staging an attack.

India is also reviewing the situation and has concluded that more than security the intelligence along the coasts needs to be beefed up since it is extremely difficult to man the coasts without proper intelligence. Hence it has been decided that more resources would be put into intelligence along the coasts. The process to involve fishermen to provide intelligence along the coast has already begun and sources say that there are nearly 800 fishermen across the country who are today providing intelligence to security agencies. Take for instance the coasts of Karnataka especially the Mangalore coast which is considered to be one of the most vulnerable coasts. There are around 200 fishermen who are today on the rolls of the state government. They have been asked to provide information on every detail in the sea and also report even small suspicious movements.

The security agencies feel that they are the best suited for the job since they know their way around the coast better than anyone else. Moreover they have been born and brought up in these areas and hence it is always better to employ them than use men who have just been trained. These fishermen all across the Indian coasts would work in tandem with the coastal security agencies.

While reviewing the situation along the coast, senior officials said that when compared to our coastal security two years back we are in a much better position today. While there is much more that we can do, we could still say that we have done a good job so far. There is a lot that state governments too have to do and one cannot rely entire on the centre for this purpose. Most of them have set up coastal police stations and some are yet to do so.

Today with coastal security becoming such an important issue, the coast guards are relying heavily on local intelligence. The fishermen in particular are being trained on intelligence gathering, sources also pointed out. These persons would have to alert the coast guards about new entrants, new ships and based on this the coast guard would do a verification of the situation. In addition to this, they have been given phones and they will have to stay regularly in touch with the local police as well. Mock drills are being conducted on a regular basis to man the coasts.

Indian agencies have not taken lightly the Karachi incident and have sounded a red alert along all coasts. There is 24/7 vigil on the coasts and off shore patrol vessels have been deployed along the coast line. The coast guards are in regular touch with the locals living along the coast who are in turn coordinating with the local police and providing regular updates, sources also pointed out.

Lok Pal bill- I am apprehensive

The meeting of the Lokpal committee yesterday has been termed as disastrous. Justice Santhosh Hegde, one of the members of the drafting panel sounded extremely irritated while speaking about yesterday’s proceedings and said, “ if they (government) are not agreeable to what we are saying then I am afraid they will have to come out with a bill without us.”
The prime contention during yesterday’s meet was the inclusion of both the Prime Minister and the Judiciary into the Lok Pal bill. It was quite surprising that the government wanted these two aspects omitted out of the bill. We were all quite taken aback when they had a change in their stand with regard to the inclusion of the Prime Minister. What do they mean when they say we want to discuss it once again and they will need to take a call on their own? On one hand they speak about an open discussion and on the other they do this volte face.
I myself found it quite surprising when they wanted to omit the Prime Minister out of this bill. Look at it this way. It makes no sense seeking a re-thought on this particular issue. Look at the 2010 Lok Pal bill. It has the Prime Minister in it. So, it beats my logic why they would want the PM omitted from the bill now. What prevents them from retaining the Prime Minister? I am afraid but it appears to be a delay tactic. How can they re-prepare something that already exists? If they want to argue with us on this, then we do not want to be part of it. Let it be their own bill.
There was an issue with the judiciary too. The government wants the judges too excluded from this bill. Now why this special treatment and what is so great that the judiciary has to be excluded from this bill. The government appears to be clinging on to the Veeraswamy judgment which states that no inquiry shall be conducted against a judge without the permission of the Chief Justice of India. What the government is saying is that we should look at the inclusion of the judiciary into the Lok Pal bill in the context of the judges accountability bill which is still under process. If it is looked at in that context then nothing would really happen.
The argument over here is that the Judges Accountability Bill speaks about provisions to deal with judges in cases of mis conduct only. There is no mention of corruption in that. So what do you do when there is corruption in the judiciary? All we told the government was that let the judiciary come under the purview of the Lok Pal bill and later it can be seen whether they would include provisions of corruption into the judges accountability bill. However the optimism regarding the judges accountability bill is not too high since nothing really has happened on this front since 2006. I would also draw your attention to the Lok Pal Bill of 1966. It clearly mentions that a seven member bench of people with a judicial background shall decide on whether a case of corruption should be registered and investigated against a judge. Why cant they retain this now? The issue was the Veeraswamy judgment of 1991 which said that a CJI shall decide on this matter. Which is better- a seven member bench deciding this or one CJI deciding who at the end of it is a part of the system itself.
It is sad to say that we do expect a big delay in the formation of this bill. In fact there were many issues that we had agreed upon, but the spoke came in at the crucial moment. The draft bill is supposed to be ready by June 30th. It will then have to be discussed with the other states, political parties and public at large. This process will be time consuming and hence when you ask me if this bill would live up to the August 15 deadline, then I would have say that I am apprehensive. It sure is not a simple process and we have to wait and watch what will happen.

End of Operation Lotus

Seeking to downplay the Sushma Swaraj vs Arun Jaitley tussle over the Reddy brothers of Bellary, Karnataka, Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa said that the issue was blown out of proportion.
Interacting with the media in Bangalore, he said he was aware when they were inducted into the Cabinet he was aware of it. There are many issues surrounding them, but the question of axing them does not arise since none of the charges against them have been proven as yet. I will await the Supreme Court verdict on the illegal mining issue before any decision can be taken, the Chief Minister also said. He also said that this issue was blown out of proportion and too much was being read into it.
Further Yeddyurappa who completed three years in office as the first BJP chief minister in South India, he said that his government will sail through smoothly for the next two years. The Operation Lotus kind of programme will not take place any more and the next two years, he will focus only on development. There will be no dissidence here onwards and the rebels have learnt their lesson, he also said.
On illegal mining, the CM said that he had checked this and added that there has been a major improvement in the scenario. The extent of the problem is just 10 per cent now and this is a marked improvement he added. On cabinet expansion, he said that he would do it in consultation with the high command.

God Mother, and now the turn around!

In bettter times
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 Sushma Swaraj. The association which began when Sushma contested the polls against Sonia Gandhi from the Bellary parliamentary seat remained intact and there was never a moment when the Reddy’s failed to drop her name and also say how she was responsible in moulding their political career.
However today there appears to be trouble with Sushma Swaraj publicly disowning them and stating that they were inducted into the Karnataka cabinet thanks to Arun Jaitley. However much Sushma may deny that she has close links with the Reddy brothers, the fact of the matter remains that she has been a god mother to these mining lords of Bellary.
The question now is why has such a statement been made. Sources within the BJP, Karnataka say that the reasons could be threefold. A fall out between Sushma and Arun Jaitley, the end of the utility of the Reddy brothers and lastly the all important mining report slated to be out in the next two weeks.
BJP insiders in Karnataka say that as of today, the Reddy brothers are taboo in the BJP circles. The mining report is just around the corner and it is expected to be an explosive one. Justice Santhosh Hegde the Lokayukta of Karnataka had put out a report earlier too, but in that report he had not taken any names and had just dealt with the manner in which illegal mining was undertaken in Bellary. However this final report before he retires in August is expected to deal with specific individuals and sources say that the mining lobby in Karnataka will be exposed.
This report is in one way or the other going to put the Reddy brothers in very poor light and there will be immense pressure on the Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa to table the report and also act against the Reddys. It is not as though the Reddy’s had started mining only after they became ministers in the Yeddyurappa government. Their mining story dates back to slightly over a decade. In fact there have been statements made that it was Sushma Swaraj who advised to start mining in Bellary, sources also point out. When this being the scenario, it was obvious for Sushma to distance herself from the Reddy and hence went on to make that statement, BJP insiders also point out.
The Reddy brothers have however decided not to react to any of these events. They have preferred to stay mum and watch the proceedings as they unfold. Chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa too has remained tight lipped. The last thing he would want is another rift within the party as he has spent the last three years protecting his seat and miraclulously surviving every little coup staged against him. K S Eshwrappa, the party president however dismisses this as a non event. Sushma’s statement was only an expression of her resentment against the portrayal that she is playing God mother to them and the entire issue has been blown out of proportion, he also adds. She was only trying to clarify that she is not promoting and hence I request not to make a big issue out of this.
The Reddy brothers have however not been discreet about the support they enjoy from Sushma. They in fact attribute everything about them to her. However today they find themselves in bad situation. Their support base is clearly vanishing and it is not secret that Yeddyurappa himself would like to see their back. Yeddyurappa had started to face problems from the Reddys right from the days of the coalition government with the Janata Dal(S) when he was a deputy chief minister. They had brought out corruption charges against the then Chief Minsiter Kumaraswamy. This became the platform for the JD(S) to say that they would not hand over power after the completion of 20 months which eventually forced elections in the state. Once Yeddyurappa became the Chief Minister, they staged a coup by taking with them 50 MLAs and relented only once the high command stepped in.
However the BJP cannot deny that they had a lot of utility from the Reddy brothers. When the elections were complete, the BJP needed the support of at least 4 independents to form the government. It was the Reddy brothers who took care of that aspect. Each time there was a dissidence within the BJP, it was the Reddy brothers who were sent in to diffuse the situation.
From that position of power in the BJP where even the CM was scared to talk to them, the Reddy’s find themselves alone today. The problems for the Reddys started with the death of Dr Y S Rajashekhar Reddy. It is said that thanks to him they enjoyed a huge clout in Andhra Pradesh and were able to further their mining interests in that state. 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 to create problems for the Reddy brothers and today rumour has it that there would be a very big raid by the CBI at the mines owned by these brothers.
In addition to this, Yeddyurappa was too forced to take many harsh decisions against the Reddy due to the pressure from the opposition. The CM had to impose a ban on the export of iron ore from Karnataka which also caused a dent in the businesses run by the Reddys.
The Reddys however clung on to the support by a large section of the MLAs within the BJP. However most of them turned their back on the Reddys following the first coup staged by them. The fact is that most of them felt cheated that the Reddy dropped them like hot bricks when 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 and even negotiate.
The days to come will be interesting since it would be make or break for the Reddy brothers. At the moment all the MLAs in the BJP would want a peaceful completion of their terms and they do realize that they would not be able to show their face in their respective constituencies if they continued to destabilise the government. The Reddy brothers too are expected to stay calm as any move by them at this point of time would mean that they will sacrifice themselves and there is none at the moment in the party to espouse their cause.