Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on Friday opposed the 'padayatra' (march) the Reddy brothers and their loyalist, Health Minister B. Sriramulu have started in their stronghold Bellary to counter the opposition's campaign against illegal mining.
"Personally I am opposed to it," Yeddyurappa told reporters, referring to the padyatra the Reddy brothers and Sriramlu launched in Bellary, about 320 km from here, Thursday to whip up support for themselves in the district where the main opposition Congress plans a huge rally Aug 9.
Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy, his elder brother Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy, the younger G. Somashekara Reddy, an assembly member, and Sriramulu have termed their march within Bellary district as 'swabhimana yatre' (walk to protect Bellary's dignity).
They started it without consulting Yeddyurappa, after he shot down Sriramulu's plans to walk from Bellary to Mysore as a counter to Congress 'Nada rakshana nadige' (march to protect the state) from Bangalore to Bellary.
The Congress started its padayatra July 25 and is covering 20 km a day to reach the iron ore rich Bellary Aug 9.
The Reddy brothers are accused of largescale illegal mining of iron ore in Karnataka and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
The brothers, who own the Obulapuram Mining Company, have denied the charges and sought to turn opposition allegations against him as a campaign to spoil the image of Bellary.
"If they had sought my advice or of the state unit party president (K.S. Eshwarappa), we would have told them not to organise such rallies," Yeddyurappa said.
"It is not advisable to launch such rally or protest while being part of the government," he asserted.
At the same time Yeddyurappa sought to placate the Reddy brothers and Sriramulu, who almost brought down his government in October-November last year, by saying that "the continued attack on them (over illegal mining) might have prompted them to hold such rallies".
Sriramulu has tonsured his head, sworn that he will wear only black, walk barefoot and eat only fruits till third week of August when senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj is likely to visit Bellary.
To counter Congress and JD-S campaign against it over illegal mining, the BJP is planning four rallies, in Davangere in central Karnataka Aug 2, Gulbarga in north Aug 5, Mysore in south Aug 12 and the last in Bellary Aug 20.
Sushma Swaraj is expected to attend the Bellary rally.
Yeddyurappa said he had ordered videography of the Congress march to Bellary as several Congress leaders were repeatedly saying that Reddy brothers' supporters could create disturbances during their march to give their party a bad name.
The chief minister said he suspected Congress leader "of hatching a conspiracy to create disturbances during their march to blame the government. Hence the order to videograph the march," he said.