Bellary: BJP leader Sushma Swaraj on Friday
strongly defended her backing the controversial Reddy
brothers, saying her support to them was because they had
broken the Congress bastion in the mine-rich Bellary.
An emotional Swaraj, recalled her association with
Bellary from the time she contested against Congress president
Sonia Gandhi in the 1999 and ridiculed state Congress leaders`
charge that the Reddy brothers were collecting Rs 1,000 crore
for making her "prime minister".
The prime minister is elected by "vote" and not
"note", she said at a well-attended BJP rally on her annual
trip to Bellary on the `Varamahalakshmi` festival day.
She said she was deeply hurt by state senior Congress
leader M P Prakash`s statement that she comes to Bellary for
Varamahalakshmi festival every year and goes back with
"lakshmi" (money from Reddy brothers).
She said in the past 11 years of her association with
Reddy brothers -- Ministers and mining magnates G Karunakara
Reddy and Janardhana Reddy, facing charges of illegal mining
-- she wasn`t even indebted to them for even Rs 11.
Swaraj also referred to Congress MLC and party state
leader K C Kondaiah`s allegation that the Bellary ministers
were collecting Rs 1,000 crore for "making her PM".
The BJP leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha said she
was supporting them because they have fulfilled her unfinished
task of breaking the Congress bastion in Bellary.
She said she has no political agenda in Bellary, from
where she also has no plans to contest. Her visits to Bellary
was purely to honour a promise that she made to people during
the 1999 elections. Swaraj recalled how she was told over
telephone at 2.30 am that she should contest against Sonia in
the Lok Sabha elections in 1999, and how she took the 6 am
flight the same day to file nominations.
During the electioneering, she told the voters she
would come to Bellary on "Varamahalakshmi" festival every year
irrespective of the poll result. She said though she lost to
Gandhi, she was able to make a "dent" to the then Congress
Thereafter, she came down to Bellary every year as
promised. "...I think probably I was born in Bellary in my