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Political row again in Karnataka’s Ballari LS seat over mining baron G Janardhan Reddy’s role

Like in the assembly elections in May, the Congress has again targeted mining baron G Janardahn Reddy, a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state minister, to discredit his aides contesting the by-election to the Ballari LS seat.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2018 15:12 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
ballari by-election,ballari LS seat,G Janardhan Reddy
File photo of mining baron and former Karnataka minister G Janardhana Reddy. (PTI file )

Every election in Karnataka’s Ballari district has witnessed the direct or indirect involvement of controversial mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy over the last decade. The November 3 by-election to the Ballari Lok Sabha seat is no different. Like in the assembly elections in May, the Congress has again targeted Reddy, a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state minister, to discredit his aides contesting the polls.

Reddy’s brothers and aide, B Sreeramulu, contested the assembly elections. Now Sreeramulu’s sister, J Shantha, is contesting the seat her brother vacated after being elected to the assembly. Shantha is pitted against VS Ugrappa, the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition candidate.

Former chief minister Siddaramaiah last week attacked Reddy, who is an accused in illegal mining cases, and Sreeramulu. He said the duo did not know about the special status accorded to the backward Hyderabad-Karnataka region, where the district is located under the Constitution’s Article 371 J, for reservation to the residents in education, jobs, and promotions. Siddaramaiah said they knew of the Indian Penal Code’s section 420, which deals with cheating.

Reddy claimed some sources within the state’s intelligence department had advised him to be alert as Karnataka’s Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance government was gunning for him. “They have created an atmosphere of fear not just here but also at my house in Bengaluru,’’ Reddy told journalists in Molkalmuru district near Ballari, where he cannot go as per Supreme Court directions because of the cases he faces.

“But I did not get scared even after they put me in jail. Let these elections conclude and I will tell the people of the state everything.”

A BJP leader declined to comment on whether Reddy was a part of the party. In the run-up to the assembly elections, BJP president Amit Shah had dissociated the party from Reddy, even as it fielded his brothers Karunakara and Somashekhar.

The mining baron said the Congress had decided to attack him every single day to discredit his close friend Sreeramulu. “Siddaramaiah keeps saying I looted money. But in his five-year tenure as chief minister he could not prove what it was that I had done,” he said.

Siddaramaiah said the Congress had given the state schemes for free rice and milk. “The BJP government’s contribution to the state is the looter Reddy brothers and Sreeramulu who is standing in their support,” he tweeted.

First Published: Oct 31, 2018 15:12 IST