On thursday morning, the Reddy caste people a group of 300 members usually meet up as a “secret meeting” at a farm house in the outskirts of the city. The meet during elections period for the discussions but this time the agenda was different as it was convened by the main accused in the Rs 50,000-crore mining scam, Gali Janardhana Reddy, and he chaired it.
According to sources, the agenda of the meeting was — “how to defeat the ruling Congress at any cost. Out on bail, Reddy even claimed that the BJP’s central leadership sought his help in defeating certain Congress leaders, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Home Minister R Ramalinga Reddy and if his claims are true, it’s certainly a big development in Karnataka politics ahead of ‘do-or-die’ Assembly elections.”
Propelling BJP to its first ever win in a southern state by Reddy brothers with their money and muscle power in 2008, became unwelcome. After the then Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde indicted them in the mining scam, the CBI sent them to jail and Janardhana Reddy had to cool his heels in Hyderabad and Bengaluru prisons for almost four years.
In 2013 assembly elections Reddy was in jail and he was even suspended from the BJP and his close confidante B Sriramulu had floated his own party called BSR Congress which had won three seats in that election. Meanwhile, by 2014, the two breakaway factions of the state BJP — Yeddyurappa’s KJP and BSR Congress — returned to the parent party and helped the Lotus symbol win 17 out of 28 Lok Sabha seats from the state.
And after that barge pole, BJP was not ready to touch the “infamous” Reddy brothers — Janardhana and Somashekhara. Even after the release from jail, Janardhana Reddy had maintained that support and he was still with the BJP but on the other hand the state BJP had clarified that he was not part of it.
From november 2016, the first signals of a rapprochement appeared where Reddy arranged his daughter’s 500 crore mega wedding at Bengaluru Palace and all top BJP leaders had attended it and even the Income Tax department did not bother to find out how Reddy had arranged Rs 500 crore just a week after demonetisation.
On the other hand, Bellary MP B Sri Ramulu was also named in the suspicious death of his close aide’s driver and alleged conversion of Rs 100 crore demonetised notes into new currencies. But the concerned agencies chose to ignore that, giving enough credence to theories that the BJP was cozying up to Reddys with Assembly polls in mind.
The Supreme Court has barred Janardhana Reddy from entering his hometown Bellary and gagged him from talking to the media. And again two weeks ago he put a plea to visit his Bellary but it was dismissed by Supreme Court. According to his aides, Reddy is planning to base himself near Chitradurga and Bellary district borders during the elections.
Unlike in the past, Janardhana Reddy won’t be visible much in public and is expected to confine himself to backroom manoeuvring and deals for the BJP. The BJP’s CM face and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa seems to have forgotten everything the Reddys did to him during his regime. Even though he is not meeting him in public, he is not averse to the idea of using the Reddys to win some seats in the elections, claim state BJP sources. When News18 asked him about Reddys, Yeddyurappa declined to comment.
The state BJP general secretary and MLA CT Ravi defending reddy’s spoke to News18 said that, “There are 224 Assembly seats in the state. Every seat is important. The Reddys are helping us in some seats. There is nothing wrong in it.”
The Reddy’s reason to side with BJP is that because of the Siddaramaiah government’s decision to reinvestigate the iron ore export scam even after the CBI closed the case. The Congress engineered the defection of two Reddy loyalists during party president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Bellary two weeks ago. It has also unnerved the Reddy camp. It fears that if the Congress retains power, it can spell doom for their family. In the crucial battle for Karnataka, both BJP and Reddys are fighting for their survival. It is a case of “two together”, “two alone” for the same cause.