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Cong shows power in Bellary

india Updated: Aug 09, 2010 22:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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More than 250,000 Congress party activists stormed into Bharatiya Janata Party bastion Bellary on Monday to demand a CBI probe into illegal mining in Karnataka.

Bellary, located in the state's east, is the hometown of the BJP leaders and iron ore barons, state Tourism Minister G Janardhana Reddy and his brother Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy.

Monday's rally marked the culmination of a 16-day, 320-km northwards walk by state Congress leaders, who tried to project a united front against the BJP government, and their supporters.

The marchers covered the distance amid rain and drumbeats, with dancers in traditional costumes and a team of doctors (treating an average of 200 people every day) accompanying them.

State Congress president R V Deshpande compared the march with the Quit India Movement launched against the British 68 years ago.

"On the day when Quit India Movement started, we ask the people to join the movement to expose the BJP and uproot it from the state," Deshpande said.

All Congress factions in the state - Deshpande's, leader of opposition Siddaramaiah's and state working president D K Shivkumar's - walked in unison.

"It (the campaign) has given us an opportunity to unite and fight the corrupt BJP," Deshpande said.

Monday's rally was attended by Congress leaders including Union ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad, S M Krishna, Veerappa Moily and K H Muniyappa.

The leaders also accused the BJP government of failing to check violent attacks in the state like the January 2009 assault of women in a Mangalore pub and targeting of churches.

"Previous Congress governments developed Karnataka as a global IT brand," a Congress leader said.

"But the BJP government has made it infamous for illegal mining."

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has rejected a probe by the CBI to look into allegations of illegal mining.

The probe was handed over to Lokayukta, Justice Santosh N. Hegde, amid Congress objections that the alleged export of illegal iron ore - to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore - had international ramifications and the state body was not equipped to investigate it.

The Bellary brothers, despite the CM's disapproval, tried to counter the Congress protest by starting a march to "save the dignity of Bellary".

But with Congress activists arriving in the thousands, the brothers stayed away from the town.

Janardhana said in Bangalore that the Congress rally would have no impact as the people believed in the BJP's development initiatives.