The resignation of Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor has now put the focus strongly on how the Bhartiya Janata Party,the principal Opposition party at the Centre,has shielded the Reddy brothers — two out of three are Cabinet ministers in the BJP government in Karnataka — despite serious allegations of illegal mining by their companies.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi took a pointed dig at the BJP in at least two television channels — Times Now and CNN-IBN — by pointing out that the BJP was hiding behind the fig leaves of Supreme Court proceedings to avoid any action against Karnataka Tourism and Infrastructure Minister Gali Janardhana Reddy and elder brother Gali Karunakara Reddy,who is the Revenue Minister of the state. The Reddy brothers own Obulapuram Mining Company Ltd that has three mining leases in Andhra Pradesh over land that borders Karnataka.
“The front pages of a leading national newspaper have recently published a series on illegal mining by the Reddy brothers,” Singhvi said,emphasising that the Congress-led government had acted in a very short time on allegations of impropriety by Tharoor. “But the BJP has kept quiet despite the Reddy brothers milking dry the land for iron ore,” he said.
In a four-part series titled “The Independent Republic of Reddys” beginning March 17,2010,The Indian Express had reported how the Reddy brothers bent all rules and brazenly mined iron ore to build by their own admission a Rs 5,000 crore mining empire. Stopping all activities at the six leases (three of which belong to Obulapuram Mining Company promoted by Janardhana Reddy),the Supreme Court has asked a team led by the Survey of India to re-fix boundaries of the leases.
Replying to Singhvi,BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said no action could be taken against the Reddy brothers because it was pending before the Supreme Court. To this,Singhvi said,”How would you have felt if the Congress-led government set up a committee and wait for its report to take action against Tharoor. But what the government did today will enhance the credibility of the Congress party.”
Deputy Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde,when asked about the BJP’s association with the Reddy brothers and their say in party affairs in the state,told The Indian Express that the “party had never accepted their demands or acted under pressure” (during the crisis in the state unit of the BJP some months ago). “Every party should uphold the principle of probity in public life,” he said.