Bangalore: The fall from grace of the once mighty Reddy brothers may have been complete but the Assembly poll outcome shows that the clout of other mining lords remains undiminished in the "Republic of Bellary."
The ruling BJP was electorally erased in all but one of the eight constituencies in Bellary district where the Reddy troika--Janardhana, Karunakara and Somashekara- built a mining empire that critics say also nourished their party.
Karunakara Reddy lost the election from Harapanahalli in the neighbouring Davangere district to Congress candidate M P Ravindra. Janardhana Reddy is cooling his heels in jail in Hyderabad in an illegal mining case, while Somashekara opted out of the contest this time.
But the Bellary story has not changed with miners lording over the district again.
BJP's Anand Singh, a miner who vacillated till the eleventh hour on whether to remain in his party, has retained Vijayanagara constituency in Hospet, trouncing Congress' Abdul Wahab, also a mining man, in an outcome that has come as a saving grace for his party. Singh's mining firm's lease was cancelled by the Supreme Court for illegal mining.
Congress' Anil Lad, a Rajya Sabha member, has managed to win from Bellary city by over 18,000 votes, weathering out discontent among some vocal local partymen who were in the forefront against illegal exploitation of iron ore.
Anil Lad-owned V S Lad Mining Company is included in Category 'C' mines in the report of the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee on illegal mining and had been indicted in the Lokayukta.
The CEC had placed 49 mining leases in which it found maximum illegalities in category C.
Incidentally, Lad's cousin Santosh Lad of Congress, also a miner-politician, has also emerged victorious from Kalghatgi in Dharwad district.
In Sandur, another miner E Tukaram of Congress has emerged triumphant with a comfortable victory margin of over 34,000 votes.
Former minister B Sriramulu, closely linked with the Reddy triumvirate who floated his own outfit BSR Congress after walking out of BJP, has retained his seat in Bellary Rural winning it by over 33,000 votes.
Sriramulu's nephew T H Suresh Babu, indicted in the Karnataka Lokayuka report on illegal mining and charge sheeted in the cash-for-bail scam relating to Janardhana Reddy, has reaffirmed his hold in Kampli by a margin of over 34,000 votes.
Eight men facing questions over mining business were in the field for the May five polls whose results were announced yesterday with the Congress ousting BJP and returning to power spectacularly after seven years.
The mining mafias stranglehold and blatant flouting of rules had prompted the then Lokayukta Santosh Hegde to refer to Bellary district as "the Republic of Bellary."
Illegal mining was a major issue that had rocked the BJP government with allegations that it provided the much needed financial muscle to it to sustain itself in power and brought infamy to it. Going by the poll verdict, the Bellary script has not changed after all as miners still rule the roost.