Bengaluru, July 17: The Supreme Court has left it to the discretion of the 15 rebel MLAs on whether they would want to attend the trust vote proceedings in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly tomorrow.
It may be recalled at the time the arguments closed on Tuesday, the rebels represented by their advocate Mukul Rohatgi had urged the court to pass an order, which would not make it mandatory for them to attend the proceedings.
Around 50 kilometres away from the capital of Karnataka, an all-important constituency is located. It is Ramanagara, also known as the silk city and the place at which the iconic movie, Sholay was shot.
While the mood at the BJP office is low, the situation is no different at the JD(S) party office. The party only managed to improve its tally by 12 seats when compared to last time when it had won in 28 constituencies.
The JD(S) despite getting 40 seats and equaling the BJP will not be happy with its performance at the moment. The result would mean that it would have to sit out of power for another 5 years at least. With the Congress hitting the majority mark, it does not require the services of any of the other parties to form the government. This is not good news for the JD(S) which will struggle to keep its flock united. Continue reading “JD(S) not smiling”
Have the God’s come to the rescue of B S Yeddyurappa, Chief Minister of Karnataka. Of all the problems that the first BJP Chief Minister of South India faced, it is pertinent to note that the biggest one was from the almighty Reddy brothers of Bellary.
Janardhan Reddy, Somashekhara Reddy and Karunakara Reddy today find themselves on the back foot and this is nothing but a blessing in disguise for the B S Yeddyurappa who has faced umpteen problems because of them. The question is what has the BJP managed to do that quietened the Reddy brothers which in turn has ensured that Yeddyurappa sleeps in peace?
The rise of the Reddy brothers was a phenomenal one. The Reddy brothers were born into a humble family and their father Chenga Reddy was a police constable. They grew up in Bellary, a city which is around 400 kilometres from Bangalore. The Reddys took full advantage of the iron ore deposits in Bellary and in just a few years time became mining lords. However their entry into politics was during the 1999 Lok Sabha elections when they worked for Sushma Swaraj, considered to be their God Mother.
Their active entry into politics was when Kumaraswamy led JD(S)-BJP combine formed the government in the state. This was probably for the first time that the Reddy’s caused a problem for Yeddyurappa when they hurled corruption charges against Kumaraswamy and his family. The JD(S) used this as a reason not to transfer power to Yeddyurappa who was forced to face the elections.
When the BJP won the polls they fell short of a majority by 5 MLAs. It was the Reddy brothers who managed to rope in the five independent MLAs and ensure that the BJP government had a majority. Today Jardhana Reddy is the minister for tourism while his brother Karunakar Reddy is the revenue minister of the state. Then there is also Sriramulu, a close associate of the Reddy who also holds a cabinet rank in the ministry.
The power that the Reddy’s yielded thanks to their money power was something that gave the BJP sleepless nights in the state. They called the shots at all times and when Yeddyurappa tried tighetening the screws on them, they revolted. Armed with the support of Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi, they pulled out 50 MLAs and took them to a resort. The bargained hard till the last minute and some of their demands were changing the principal secretary to the Chief Minister, the ouster of Shobha Karandlage and also bringing back officials in Bellary who Yeddyurappa had transferred stating that they were aiding illegal mining. It was money power that dominated at the end of it and Yeddyurappa in a bid to save his own chair gave into all those demands.
However today the scenario is completely different. A minister in Yeddyurappa’s cabinet says, “ they have become more accommodating and they want to work along with the government. They are relatively quiet and do consider the Chief Minister to be the boss. However this was not the scenario a couple of months back.
What has changed so drastically for the Reddy’s. The fact is that the BJP has hardly done anything to ensure this change. Yeddyurappa did make a statement and later implement a ban on export of iron ore. This however did not affect the Reddy’s much since they have most of their mining interests in Andhra Pradesh. Another thing that Yeddyurappa did manage to do was to create a split in the BJP high command in New Delhi. The high command so far as Karnataka is concerned was split with one faction supporting the Reddys and the other Yeddyurappa.
Another factor is that the reliance on the Reddys to tide over a crisis such as roping in MLAs is not much as of today. The state BJP is capable of handling such a situation on its own.
While these remains very small factors that have worked against the Reddys, the anticipation of the bigger issues is what has really made them quiet. All this began with the Union Government tightening the screws on the Reddys on the issue of illegal mining. The inquiries conducted by the government found that the Reddy’s despite denying the claims were indulging in illegal mining. The problem for the Reddy’s however was the death of Dr Y S Rajashekhar Reddy with whose help they had managed to keep the Congress at the Centre quiet. However with the death of YSR and Jagan Mohan Reddy revolting against the Congress, the Reddy’s lost favour with the Congress.
This was followed by the decision of the Supreme Court which appointed a Central Empowered Committee to look into the issue of illegal mining. In January the court ordered cancellation of the licences for their unit at Andhra Pradesh on the ground that the mining company called as the Obulapuram Mining Company had flouted several laws. Then came the report of the committee which took note of the fact that there was large scale illegal mining in the Bellary reserve forest.
The worries for the Reddy brothers does not end here however. There is an all important report on illegal mining which is scheduled to be out before the end of July. The Lokayukta of Karnataka, Justice Santhosh Hegde who is set to retire in August will give out the report shortly. Although Justice Hegde does not confirm any of the contents of the report, the rumour mill has it that it would focus largely on the manner in which the Reddy brothers have been undertaking illegal mining. I do not wish to say anything about it, but I will give it out before my retirement in August, Justice Hegde said when contacted.
What has made matters worse for the Reddy brothers is that while the legal issues continue to put them on the backfoot, there is a change in the manner in which the high command too. The recent statement by their God Mother Sushma Swaraj where she literally denied having anything to do with the Reddys too has thrown them off guard. It was a clear indication that Sushma Swaraj who is pursuing her ambition of becoming the next Prime Minister of this country wanted to distance herself from the Reddy brothers who have been slapped with one allegation after another not only by the people but also by the courts and the law enforcing agencies.
This brings us to another question about the support the Reddy brothers had from the 50 MLAs. During the last rebellion against Yeddyurappa, it was clear that these same MLAs who the Reddys had on their side were not with them. Even when Yeddyurappa sent the Reddys to coax these MLAs they refused to meet him and the grapevine has it that during the last coup the Reddys had disowned them after their demands were met.
Today the thinking in the Reddy camp is surely a changed one. Their last hope is this BJP government in Karnataka and they do realise that it would be best to play along to what Yeddyurappa is saying. It was clear when Yeddyurappa went ahead and transferred some officials from Bellary, the Reddy brothers were quiet. This only shows that they are in no mood for confrontation with the government. They today want to consolidate at least one front which will protect them from the various reports and verdicts that would come out against them.
BJP insiders say that the Reddy brothers are meek today and are not in any position to offend anyone within the party. They work along with the CM and do not have any complaints really. They do realise that it would literally be their end if this government in Karnataka were to collapse today since no one else is ready to go along with them. Yeddyurappa could not have asked for a better situation as today he does realise that all along his biggest threat was never the opposition, it was always the ones from within his very own party.
There is heavy bandobast at Dharmasthala for an interesting event to be held tomorrow. H D Kumaraswamy, former Chief Minister of Karnataka will go ahead and swear before Lord Manjunatha that Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa had infact tried to buy peace with him in relation to charges of corruption.
Security has been beefed up and temple authorities are making all possible preparations to ensure that the event passes off peacefully. The real devotees at Dharmasthala will however put to discomfort since the crowds to witness Kumaraswamy is expected to be huge. Most of the persons expected to gather there will be Janata Dal (S) party workers.
B S Yeddyurappa who had also stated that he would swear before the Lord that Kumaraswamy was lying has however decided not to go ahead with the programme. Instead he will perform a prayer at Dharmasthala tomorrow. Yeddyurappa had been told by the party high command not to mix God and politics. However Yeddyurappa stated that since he had already decided to go to Dharmasthala it would not look good if he cancelled his programme. Instead he would go there and offer prayers, he said.
However at Dharmasthala there will not be a face off between the two leaders. The Kumaraswamy event is scheduled for 11 AM, but the CM is expected to go there at a different time.
Although this event is not expected to have any political impact, political observers say that this is more of an ego battle. Kumaraswamy will use this as a political tool and will tell the people about how he kept up his promise and the manner in which Yeddyurappa failed. In fact after the Chief Minister decided not to swear before the Lord, Kumaraswamy has already been saying that he is morally right. He also said that he was on a higher scale when compared to Yeddyurappa and the CM had chickened out at the last moment. I will be clearing the doubts of the people and the people of Karnataka will have no doubts about me. They will however look at the CM with suspect, he added.