Bangalore: The 320-km `padayatra` by Congress
in Karnataka, launched as an anti-corruption blitzkrieg
against the BJP government with the spotlight on illegal
mining, will culminate at the mining hub of Bellary tomorrow.
Marking the end of the 16-day-long walk, state Congress
heavyweights will address a rally in Bellary, home district of
three ministers and mining magnates -- K Janardhana Reddy, his
brother Karunakara Reddy and their associate R Sreeramulu.
The `padayatra`, seen as a comeback vehicle for Congress,
hit by low morale after a string of electoral defeats since
2004, was kicked off amid much fanfare in Bangalore on July
Congress leaders embarked on the walkathon after
accepting the challenge by the three ministers in the state
Assembly on July 9 when they dared them to step onto their
home turf, where, the Opposition alleges, only the writ of the
Reddy brothers runs large.
The BJP, running its first ever government in the South,
was initially dismissive of the `padayatra`, calling it a
"political gimmick", but changed tack taking into account the
public response to it, making counter moves.
The Congress offensive drew a peculiar response from
Sreeramulu, who tonsured his head and went on a counter
`padayatra`, sporting black robes in Bellary district.
Sreeramulu said he has chosen to ward off the evil eye of
Congress on Bellary, but his show, fully supported by the
Reddy brothers, invited the ire of Chief Minister B S
Yeddyurappa, who openly disapproved of it, saying being in the
government, they should not have done it.
The `padayatra` drew angry reactions from the Reddy
brothers, who said they would hang themselves if Congress
could produce any evidence to substantiate their charge that
they were involved in illegal mining.