Karnataka CM Yeddyurappa backs Reddy brothers, wants Lok Ayukta to probe

Independent Media

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to have decided to defend the Reddy brothers of Karnataka, who are under attack over allegations of illegal mining, with Chief Minister, Mr B.S. Yeddyurappa, stating here on Sunday that the "Reddy brothers were not responsible for illegal mining".

Mr Yeddyurappa's statement came after his meeting here with senior BJP leader, Ms Sushma Swaraj, who is considered close to the Reddy brothers - ministers, Mr Janardhana Reddy and Mr Karunakara Reddy. The brothers had earlier held talks with Ms Swaraj and Yeddyurappa in the morning in the wake of demands by the state governor and opposition parties for their resignation.

Mr Yeddyurappa told reporters: "Let the Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) probe the entire issue. We are ready for a thorough probe of the illegal mining issue in the state from 2003."

However, he did not say anything about a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the illegal mining, which the opposition is demanding.

The Reddy brothers met the chief minister at the Karnataka Bhawan and later met with Swaraj, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

Ms Swaraj is believed to have told the brothers they should not "breach party discipline, whatever the decision is, in the interest of the party and the government".

But she also told them that the BJP will "not succumb to the pressure tactics of the Congress", an aide of Mr Janardhana Reddy, the state tourism minister, told IANS.

A high-level meeting of the party leaders here on Saturday had suggested that Ms Swaraj should "interact and influence the Reddy brothers" to save the Karnataka ministry, the first-ever BJP government in south India, party sources said.

The Saturday meeting was attended by senior BJP leader, Mr L.K. Advani, party president Mr Nitin Gadkari, Mr Yeddyurappa, party general secretary, Mr Ananth Kumar, office bearers of the state unit and several state ministers.

The Reddy brothers may address a news conference later on Sunday.

Mr Janardhana Reddy told the media that they will counter the "false propaganda launched by the Congress party". "I am ready to resign if any of the allegations are proved," he told reporters. "Neither the Supreme Court, the Lok Ayukta, not even the central government has found any wrong doing by us," he claimed.

The allegations against the brothers have become a thorny issue for the BJP since Governor, Mr H.R. Bharadwaj, last week asked Mr Yeddyurappa to drop the "corrupt ministers". Mr Bharadwaj had met President, Ms Pratibha Patil, as the opposition members in the Karnataka assembly - Congress and Janata Dal-Secular MLAs - held a dharna in the house pressing for a CBI probe into the illegal mining.

"The BJP is in a tricky situation of trying to safeguard its image while not succumbing to the opposition pressure to drop the Reddy brothers from the ministry," a BJP central leader 


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