Reddy brothers "101%" clean, says Yeddyurappa

Karnataka CM B S Yeddyurappa said there was no truth in reports of proposal to drop the Reddy brothers from the state cabinet.

New Delhi: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa Sunday gave a "101 percent" clean chit to the Reddy brothers, the mining barons and state ministers, on allegations of illegal mining and ruled out dropping them from his ministry.

After intense deliberations with senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj and state party leaders, Yeddyurappa came out in support of his ministers.

"There is no truth in reports of proposal to drop the Reddy brothers (from the ministry)," Yeddyurappa told reporters.

"I do not want to discuss the details of the talks with party leaders on organizational and other matters," Yeddyurappa said when asked if the Reddy brothers` resignation figured in the talks.

G Janardhana Reddy and G Karunakara Reddy are accused by the opposition parties of rampant illegal mining in the state. The opposition has been holding a dharna in the state Assembly on the issue.

The Reddy brothers met the Chief Minister at the Karnataka Bhawan and later met with Swaraj, whom they call their `thayi` (mother).

After the meeting, Janardhana Reddy told reporters he will address a press meet in Bangalore on Monday and reply to the allegations against them.

Yeddyurappa said that the opposition was making false allegations against the brothers.

"The opposition is making false statements. If they have proof, let them give it to the High Court or the Supreme Court," he said.

Asked if he was giving a clean chit to the Reddy brothers with regards to allegations of illegal mining, Yeddyurappa said: "101 percent."

On Governor H R Bhardwaj`s statement that if had the power he would have sacked the Reddy brothers, the Chief Minister said: "He has overstepped his limits."

Sticking to his stand against a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe, Yeddyurappa said he will be writing Monday to Karnataka Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) N Santosh Hegde, a retired Supreme Court judge, to probe illegal mining in the state since 2002.

Swaraj is believed to have told Reddy brothers they should not "breach party discipline. Whatever the decision is, it 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 Janardhana Reddy, the state`s tourism minister, said.

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

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

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 Bharadwaj last week asked Yeddyurappa to drop the "corrupt ministers".

Bharadwaj had met President Pratibha Patil as the opposition members in the Karnataka Assembly - Congress and Janata Dal-Secular legislators - held a dharna in the House pressing for a CBI probe into the issue.

"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 Congress leader, who did not want to be identified, said.

The Congress has planned a `padayatra` (march on foot) to iron ore rich Bellary, about 300 km from Bangalore, which is the political base of Reddy brothers to mobilize public support for a CBI probe.

State Congress president R V Deshpande and other leaders have been camping in New Delhi since Friday and have briefed party leaders on the political situation in the state.


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